The Patriots locked up one of their unrestricted free agents over the weekend, inking fullback Patrick Pass to a two-year deal. Pass, who began his New England career on the Patriots practice squad, proved to be a versatile contributor out of the backfield this season. As Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News reports for The Boston Herald, Pass set career highs in 2004 for receptions, receiving yards, and rushing yards.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe had more over the weekend on the Patriots newest acquisition, cornerback Duane Starks, who addressed the media in a Friday afternoon conference call. As Cafardo reports, Starks is confident the injuries that have plagued him will not be a factor come football season, adding, "if I don't start, it means I didn't work hard enough."
In Sunday's Globe, Cafardo discussed the Patriots unemotional approach to this offseason, noting the team does not allow sentimentality into its personnel decisions. As evidence, Cafardo points to the team's release of the popular Troy Brown, a player who sacrificed his offensive statistics last season to help the team out on defense. However, Cafardo also mentions, the team has often replaced sentimental favorites well, such as bringing in Corey Dillon to replace Antowain Smith.
Kevin Mannix of the Herald looks at the recent veteran exodus, and contends the players are no longer buying into the idea that it is worth it to play for the Patriots for less money. As Mannix notes, players have come to New England, or stayed in New England, for less money in recent years, a trend that seems to have come to an end. Troy Brown was released because he would not accept the pay-cut he was offered, and Joe Andruzzi and David Patten took off after being receiving more lucrative offers from other teams.
Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated has a feature on SI.com detailing what exactly led to the demise of pro football's previous dynasties.
Finally, USA Today is reporting that Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who often finds himself penalized for his hard-hitting style of play, will experience a role-reversal when he tries his hand at refereeing. To see if it might be of interest to him after his playing days are done, Harrison is interning as a referee during the NFL Europe training camp, which begins today in Tampa, Florida.