With the 2006 NFL Draft weekend closing in, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe offers a top-10 list of potential Patriots.
Tom Curran of the *Providence Journal *profiles North Carolina State Outside linebacker/defensive end Manny Lawson.
USA Today's "Inside Slant" discusses Seymour's new deal. In an off-season that has been dominated by the free agent departures of such key contributors as Adam Vinatieri, Willie McGinest and David Givens, the Patriots made sure their top defensive player won't be joining that list anytime soon by reaching an agreement with All-Pro defensive lineman Richard Seymour on a lucrative four-year contract extension on April 12. While terms of the deal where not disclosed, the deal reportedly includes more than $24 million in bonuses and carries an annual average value of nearly $8 million per season. Seymour had been set to enter the final year of his six-year rookie contract in 2006, with the potential to hit the open market next spring. Instead, the 2001 No. 6 overall pick out of Georgia, the prime building block of New England's 3-4 front, is staying put with the team he's helped lead to three Super Bowl triumphs while earning four Pro Bowl trips in just five years in the NFL.
Albert Breer of the MetroWest Daily News reports that Patriots officials traveled to Charlottesville, Va. to conduct a private workout with Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans, who projects to be either a receiver or third-down back in the NFL. The 5-foot-9, 202-pounder was a two-year starter for former Bill Belichick staffmate Al Groh and the Cavaliers. "Different teams are looking at him different ways," said agent Vance Malinovic. "A lot of them are looking at him in the Randle El capacity, and I can see how they would." A highly-efficient college passer -- he compiled a 62 percent completion percentage in his final two seasons after replacing the Falcons' Matt Schaub at UVA -- Hagans could slide into the slot receiver/return man role that Randle El filled in Pittsburgh. He isn't regarded as being as explosive as the new Redskin, but the 4.5 he clocked at his pro day proved he possesses receiver speed.
Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star writes that kicker Martin Gramatica, who helped the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers win a Super Bowl, will try filling the shoes of Vinatieri, who won two Super Bowls for the Patriots with last-second field goals that became the stuff of legend in New England. "We all know he is the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history," Gramatica said of Vinatieri, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with Indianapolis. "I have a lot of respect for Adam. But that's how the NFL is. Sometimes you just can't keep guys that you want. "I'm sure New England didn't want to let him go because he's a top-of-the-line kicker, but sometimes you just have to do certain things. I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to kick in the NFL again. If I go in and do my job, everything should work out."
Albert Breer of the MetroWest Daily News writes that with Richard Seymour locked up, there isn't a bigger need for the Patriots than the one for a No.2 receiver. And the team isn't exactly holding back its affection for one of the draft's better pass-catchers. The Patriots interviewed Michigan wideout Jason Avant already at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and are interested enough to take another look. Next week, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and wide receivers coach Brian Daboll will travel to the U of M campus in Ann Arbor for a private workout with the former All-Big Ten Wolverine, according to agent Jason Hendrickson.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.