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Patriots.com News Blitz - 03/23/06

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal reports that the Patriots signed free-agent cornerback Chad Scott yesterday. Scott was with the team last year and made four tackles in three games. He injured his shoulder early in the season and was placed on injured reserve. Scott is now in the mix with Ellis Hobbs, Asante Samuel and Randall Gay at cornerback. Curran also cites sources indicating that the team is close to re-signing free agent right guard Stephen Neal and veteran wide receiver Troy Brown.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that the decision to jettison Neil Cornrich's group in favor of Gary Uberstine's appears central to the process that led Vinatieri out of New England and into Indianapolis, where Tuesday he agreed to a multi-year contract worth at least $2.5 million annually that makes him the highest-paid kicker in NFL history.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that Adam Vinatieri's father, Paul, said last night that his son wanted to remain with the Patriots in the worst way. "He loved the fans there," the elder Vinatieri said from his home in South Dakota. "They treated him so well. He'll never forget that, but the Colts treated him very well in their talks. They were straightforward and upfront and were able to get it done quickly with Adam, who really appreciated their interest in him."

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald reports that kicker Mike Vanderjagt's agent Gil Scott was reported yesterday as saying that there was "mutual interest" between Vanderjagt and the Patriots. Felger writes that true or not, you have to wonder why smart football men like Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells even wasted their breath with this guy. He represents just about everything Belichick has stood against over his six years in New England.

John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri said he'll miss New England but that he's ready to move on to Indianapolis during an interview with Ch. 4's Steve Burton last night. "Obviously, there's a huge part in my heart for New England that will always be there," Vinatieri said from a hotel lobby in Indianapolis, where he'll officially be introduced today. "There were a lot of amazing things with the New England Patriots that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. I'll miss the fans. I'll miss a lot of stuff about it. But this is a new chapter in my life."

Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal draws comparisons of Adam Vinatieri going to the Colts with Johnny Damon going to the New York Yankees. Reynolds writes that the days of most players growing old with their original teams is now as old fashioned as afternoon doubleheaders and "win one for the Gipper" pregame pep talks. Free agency has changed that. The huge money has changed that. Once upon a time no one knew how much money athletes made. Now it's as well-known as their stats, always in your face. Once upon a time we were able to look at pro sports through a child's eyes. It's almost impossible to do that anymore.

Tim Weisberg of the Standard Times writes that the concept of setting a value number on a player has worked well for the Patriots since Bill Belichick was given the keys to the stadium. The coach has never let emotion get the better of him when it came to making player personnel decisions. But letting Vinatieri go the the Colts goes beyond the thousands of No. 4 Patriots jerseys that now mean nothing more than memories. This means more than just the loss of one player, albeit one of the most iconic in franchise history. This shows that no matter who you are, no matter what you've done for the franchise, it's all about the bottom line.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that on a warm, early September day in Buffalo 30 months ago, the Bills were led to a resounding victory by newly acquired strong safety Lawyer Milloy and their franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe. When the thrashing was over, Buffalo had beaten the Patriots, 31-0, in the 2003 season opener. That day a shift in the AFC East balance of power seemed to be in the offing. But the shift didn't take. Thirty months later, the Patriots have won two more Super Bowls and three more AFC East titles without Milloy and Bledsoe. The Bills have been disassembled. Bledsoe is in Dallas; Milloy is in Atlanta and those who predicted the crumbling of the Patriots were wrong. Placekicker Adam Vinatieri has gone to the Colts. Wide receiver David Givens has gone to the Titans. Linebacker Willie McGinest has gone to the Browns. The signs proclaiming, "The End Is Near!" have been fished out once again.

Michael Parente of the WoonsocketCall writes that several key free agents have left New England this winter, prompting many to wonder where the team is heading as the 2006 season approaches. The negatives have far outweighed the positives, but there's still plenty of time left as the Patriots continue to build their roster. Once they replace Vinatieri, the Patriots need to add depth at wide receiver. Givens' departure created a major void that they hope can be replaced by Reche Caldwell - the former San Diego Charger who signed with the team earlier this month. McGinest is arguably the easiest of the free-agent departures to replace. The Patriots could move Mike Vrabel back to outside linebacker and give Monty Beisel a chance to start inside next to Tedy Bruschi. Shuffling the lineup would leave them with a solid starting rotation, but little depth, so they might need to consider finding reinforcements within the next two months. The Patriots are roughly $19 million under the salary cap, so they have money to spend. They're undoubtedly looking for value with each acquisition in order to ensure they won't fall into financial trouble down the road. They also have enough picks in next month's draft to continue to stockpile young talent.

The Providence Journal offers highlights of the Paul Tagliabue Era (1989-2006).

The Republican reports that Go FIT, a nonprofit fitness and wellness organization based in Western Massachusetts, will hold a fund-raising event, "Breakfast For Champions," featuring keynote speaker Doug Flutie of the New England Patriots on April 4 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Blake Student Commons at Bay Path College in Longmeadow. Tickets for this event are $50 per person.

Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle takes a look at NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's career. Perhaps one of the lesser heralded accomplishments of Tagliabue's reign was the stadium building boom that revitalized the league, More than two-thirds of the teams in the league are either playing in or building stadiums that didn't exist when Tagliabue took over in 1989.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest Patriots mailbag.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.

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