Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that according to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the biggest goal is not simply finding a new man to replace outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue. The biggest goal is finding a new man without alienating so many of the NFL's 32 owners that the league becomes an ungovernable or rudderless ship. Kraft, who was among eight owners appointed by Tagliabue last week to a search committee charged with identifying candidates for what may be the most powerful job in sports. Kraft will be joined by committee co-chairmen Dan Rooney of the Steelers and Jerry Richardson of the Panthers, as well as Kansas City's Lamar Hunt, the Jets' Woody Johnson, Dallas's Jerry Jones, Chicago's Mike McCaskey and, surprisingly, Raiders managing general partner Al Davis. Davis has long been at odds with Tagliabue and the league, so his appointment seemed to add an element of inclusiveness to what is expected to be a laborious search.
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe reports that former Patriots safety Michael Stone has agreed to a deal with the Houston Texans. Stone, who signed with the Patriots last September, started three games at strong safety for New England after Rodney Harrison was lost for the season with a knee injury.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald offers an article on linebacker and special teamer Tully Banta-Cain. It's no secret the Patriots need to get younger at linebacker. Could Banta-Cain be the answer? "It's my fourth year," Banta-Cain said while taking a break from a recent workout. "I feel like I've had plenty of time to develop. This should be the year for me. This is my chance to show them what Banta-Cain is all about." A seventh-round pick in 2003 out of California, Banta-Cain has thus far made his bones on special teams. He has watched Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel every day since he arrived and hopes to join them on defense.
USA Today's "Inside Slant" writes that in their search to replace "Automatic" Adam Vinatieri, the Patriots have turned to Martin Gramatica, who used to be "Automatica" before a series of injuries sabotaged his career. Without a kicker since Vinatieri's stunning free-agent defection to the Colts last month, the Patriots' first step in filling the void was welcoming Gramatica, a 30-year-old native of Argentina, back to the NFL. The former Bucs star, who earned a Super Bowl XXXVII ring with Tampa Bay, sat out the 2005 season recovering from surgery to repair two abdominal tears on his right side.
Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa of the Boston Herald's Inside Track* * reports that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and girlfield Bridget Moynahan surprised 200 Hole in the Wall Gang campers at the Big Apple Circus over the weekend, where they turned up to catch the action under the big top with Tom's sis, Nancy. The campers were there at a benefit hosted by the Stop & Shop Co.
Leading up to the NFL Draft, the Providence Journal's Tom Curran will profile a player at a "need" position for the Patriots each day. New England has 10 picks in the draft, six in the first four rounds. Their first-round pick is the 21st overall. Today Curran profiles Penn State cornerback Alan Zemaitis.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss reports in his blog that the Patriots hosted Fresno State cornerback Richard Marshall on a pre-draft visit at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. The visit was confirmed by Marshall's agent, Steve Feldman. Reiss also offers his latest Patriots mailbag.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.