Shalise Manza Young and Greg A. Bedard report Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is in Virginia for NFL owners meetings, had this to say about retiring guard Stephen Neal:
“One of the classiest, nicest men we’ve had. Our family loves wrestling, and seeing how he is a world champion and then transforming into a terrific football player, it was amazing to see.
“He is a man of great character. The intangibles were great, and to be able to be a world champion and then do what he did in the field, no one wanted to go near him. And he just did it all in a nice way.
“Absolutely, it’s tough to lose players that helped win three world championships, but he was a real special guy.’’
Mike Reiss updates us on the status of DL Mike Wright, who missed the final six regular-season games with a concussion before being placed on IR.
Wright, according to a source, has made strides in his recovery and has been working out at Gillette Stadium. While some players have left the area over the last few months, Wright has stayed close by, positioning himself to be at his strongest when organized workouts ultimately begin.
Wright, who turned 29 on Tuesday and enters his seventh NFL season, led the Patriots with 5.5 sacks last season. His contract runs through 2012.
Ian Rapoport hears from agent Mark Slough that RB Sammy Morris still wants to play in the NFL, and he may stick around with the Patriots.
“He’s definitely not retiring,” Slough told me. “He’ll be an unrestricted free agent, and the CBA uncertainty puts us in limbo like everyone else. We’ll see, like everyone else, what it looks like when it’s all said and done. But he has no intention of retiring. He still hopes to be playing football in 2011.”
- New England Patriots guard Stephen Neal announced his retirement today, closing his 10-year career as a member of the Patriots offensive line.
- Andy Hart notes Stephen Neal's retirement announcement will leave the O-Line as arguably the most uncertain spot on the team's roster.
- Chad Finn honors Stephen Neal, one of the longest-tenured Patriots, by posting a video of Neal's gold-medal winning wrestling match from the 1999 World Wrestling Championship.
- Mike Reiss takes a look at the players on the Patriots roster who could factor into the mix at guard.
- Christopher Price analyzes what the retirement of Stephen Neal means to the Patriots.
- Tom E. Curran assesses the candidates already on the roster who can fill the void at guard.
- Ian Rapoport reports the Patriots extended a second-round RFA tender to RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis that could net him up to $2 million on a one-year contract.
- Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots players who are eligible for restricted free agent tenders.
- Jeff Howe reports Danny Woodhead was recently honored by his hometown Nebraska State Legislature for his success in football.
- WEEI highlights Todd McShay's appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday. McShay thinks the Pats should focus on defense with the 17th pick.
- Mike Reiss gives his take on Pat Kirwan's Mock Draft selections for the Patriots.
- Jeff Howe asserts the signing of Marcus Stroud shouldn't prevent the Patriots from retaining Gerard Warren.
- Christopher Price pinpoints five things we learned at the NFL Combine last week. The rest of the league is well aware of how the Patriots can tip the scales come April.
- Greg A. Bedard reports that with the midnight deadline looming, the NFL field of play will likely to shift from the negotiating room to the courtroom.
- Christopher Price offers a quick look at the major points being discussed in the talks between NFL players and owners.
- Greg A. Bedard reports the NFL is about to enter uncharted territory, and offers an outline of how things should play out.
- Mark Farinella won't be waiting, worrying or wringing his hands while the new NFL labor agreement is being negotiated.
- Ron Borges explains why the NFL labor situation looks pretty bleak at the moment, with neither side willing to be the first to blink.
- Ian Rapoport notes Randy Moss won't sign with the Titans or any team before the March 3rd deadline, allowing himself to become a free agent.
- Michael Hurley offers the Top Ten Charlie Sheen quotes that can guide sports franchises. 'Duh'.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) AFC East moves: Neal retires, Gholston cut.
- Lester Munson (ESPN) The NFLPA's power play: Cease to exist. When the union decertifies, as it will shortly, the landscape changes dramatically.
- Toni Monkovic (NY Times) As NFL deadline nears, would decertification be a sham?
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Armageddon Eve is upon us.
- Don Banks (SI) Chances of breakthrough appear long as CBA deadline approaches.
- Andrew Brandt (Nat'l Football Post) Decision day: the scenarios.
- Judy Battista (NY Times) Mediated NFL labor talks in final day.
- Don Banks (SI) Owners' negotiating team arrives in full for union mediation meeting.
- Ray Ratto (CBS Sports) NFL labor battle simply appetizer to owner-on-owner violence. The real war is with owners over universal revenue sharing.
- Albert Breer (NFL.com) General councel Jeff Pash: League could extend deadline if gap in labor talks closes.
- Jason La Canfora (NFL.com) NFL seeks direction entering crucial day of labor mediation.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Chris Mortensen explains the significance of a federal judge's ruling that the NFL's television contracts violated terms of the CBA. (3.19 min. video)
- Adam Teicher (Kansas City Star) Chief's employees would see pay cut if there's a lockout.
- Jason La Canfora (NFL.com) CBA uncertainty leaves Combine dealings at a minimum.
- Mike Klis (Denver Post) Broncos cut tight end Daniel Graham, $1 million bonus was due.
- George Bretherton (NY Times) Leon Washington, Rod Tidwell and risking it all in the NFL.
- Pat Kirwan (NFL.com) Mock Draft 1.0. Pats select DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) at 17 and OT Derek Sherrod (Miss. State) at 28.
- Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) Mock Draft 2.0. Patriots select DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin) at 17 and OLB Akeem Ayers (UCLA) at 28.
- Clark Judge (CBS Sports) No shortage of impact D-linemen in Draft.
- Joe Fortenbaugh (Nat'l Football Post) Top 20 Biggest Draft Busts.
- Michael Salfino (Wall St. Journal) Vernon Gholston's place among all-time Draft-day busts. "He never recorded a single sack, something no other defensive end drafted in the top 10 picks can claim."