Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe, John Tomase of the Boston Herald and Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant report that wide receiver David Givens, who holds the Patriots record for postseason touchdown receptions, has signed with the Tennessee Titans, ending his four-year stay in New England. A seventh-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, Givens developed into a solid pro with the Patriots, and several teams showed interest in him this offseason. The Titans felt Givens was the premier receiver available, and paid him accordingly, with a five-year, $24 million deal that included an $8 million signing bonus.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that the Patriots currently have two experienced receivers under contract - Deion Branch and Bethel Johnson. With the loss of Givens, the Patriots need to sign a No. 2 receiver. So who's out there? An interesting name appeared on the market yesterday when the Dallas Cowboys released Keyshawn Johnson, a favorite of coach Bill Parcells who was due a $1 million roster bonus and $1.5 million salary. Reports out of Dallas said the former Jets and Buccaneers standout seeks a two-year contract worth between $2 million and $3 million annually. At age 34, he's nearing the end of the line, but he posted excellent numbers last year, catching 71 passes for 839 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 214-pounder's style of play very much fits the Patriots mold - big, strong, tough and willing to block in the running game. He would provide an excellent complement to the smaller, speedier Branch.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that despite huge amounts of salary cap space ($18 million and growing) and needs throughout the roster, the Pats have not made a single signing since the start of free agency on midnight Friday. They've lost three players (and counting) off the roster and haven't brought in a single new body. This is just par for the course for Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli. They demand "value" in any signing they make, and the first weekend of free agency provides the worst values of the year. If you want to get someone early you have to overpay, and the Pats aren't about to do that no matter how much the cap grows.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest has yet to hear from the Patriots regarding a return to the team and is ready to finish his career elsewhere, according to an interview with ESPN.com. "There are a lot of great memories from all those seasons in New England," McGinest said, "but they're called memories for a reason. I've still got some history to go out and make." The Patriots cut McGinest last week rather than pay him a $3.5 million roster bonus. He stood to make at least $7 million in salary next season.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that kicker Adam Vinatieri will make his first official visit of free agency Friday when he travels to Green Bay to meet the Packers. Green Bay recently lost kicker Ryan Longwell to the Minnesota Vikings and began free agency with more than $30 million in salary cap space. Vinatieri's standing as the best bad-weather kicker in history makes him an obvious target for the Pack, although a source close to Vinatieri said he'd prefer a warmer climate if he decides to leave New England.
Lenny Megliola of the Boston Herald reports that while Patriots backup quarterback Doug Flutie sifts through career options in and out of football (broadcasting tops the list), Flutie plans on playing baseball this summer in a 30-and-over league for the Natick Knights. Though retirement from football is a strong possibility, Flutie and Pats coach Bill Belichick are expected to discuss the 43-year-old quarterback's future with the team one last time.
Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets have signed former Patriots linebacker/special teamer Matt Chatham, according to his agent, Paul Sheehy.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest Patriots mailbag which discusses the departure of wide receiver David Givens and the future of linebacker Willie McGinest.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.