Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe, John Tomase of the Boston Herald and Tom Curran of the Providence Journal write that one week after the Patriots released the 12-year veteran to avoid paying him a sizable roster bonus and absorbing a huge $8 million salary cap hit for the 2006 season, McGinest accepted a three-year, $12 million deal (half of it guaranteed) to join the Cleveland Browns. "It's going to be a little different," McGinest said at a news conference in Cleveland after he took a look at his new Browns jersey. "I had a great run [in New England]. We did some really good things."
Ron Borges of the Boston Globe offers the inside scoop on the negotiations that went on behind the scenes that resulted in wide receiver David Givens signing with the Tennessee Titans.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that even though the Pats are going to be as much as $20 million under the salary cap this week, no one has been able to pry the wallet out of Bill Belichick's pocket. That has to change, because going into the 2006 season with Monty Beisel at inside linebacker would be beyond unacceptable, just as it was last year when Beisel's problems were so profound that Mike Vrabel had to move inside to provide cover. The Pats can go one of two directions. They can keep Vrabel inside and go after an edge player. San Francisco's Julian Peterson is one of the few marquee names left on the market and could even represent an upgrade over McGinest.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that now Keyshawn Johnson is a free agent in a market in which perhaps no team needs a receiver more than the Patriots, and an obvious conclusion is being drawn. "Keyshawn used to play for Bill Belichick and they have a good relationship," agent Jerome Stanley said yesterday. "He likes Bill Belichick and (Belichick's assistant) Berj Najarian a lot. He's close to Bill and Berj and they communicate a lot." Said communication has not yet led Johnson to schedule an official visit, Stanley said. When asked if the Patriots had exhibited any interest, the agent hesitated. "I can't talk about that," Stanley said.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that anyone who thinks the 2005 NFL season was an aberration and that the 2006 Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl needs a reality check now. For the second straight day, the Patriots lost a key starter in free agency because they wouldn't go the extra mile to keep him. Wednesday, rugged 12-year linebacker Willie McGinest, one of the team's unquestioned leaders, shut the door on an excellent Patriots career and signed a three-year, $12 million deal, including a $6 million signing bonus, to play for the Browns. Browns coach Romeo Crennel knows McGinest and his talents well from his years as Patriots defensive coordinator (2001-04). "He's a big reason why I came," McGinest told The Associated Press. "He's like a father. He makes you feel comfortable and gives you that family atmosphere."
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.