Neal Calls It A Career
--OG Stephen Neal announced his retirement March 2. The oft-injured guard, a former world-class wrestler who never played college .
"It's something that's been on everyone's mind," Brace said of how a lockout would affect football, walks away after nine NFL seasons. Neal played in just eight games last season before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, and has missed at least four games to injury in each of the last four seasons. He finished his New England career with 86 games played and 81 career starts, plus 12 starts in 12 postseason games. Though inactive for Super Bowl XXXVI, Neal earned three Super Bowl rings in his time in New England.
Green-Ellis Sticking Around
--RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a potential restricted free agent, received a second-round level tender from the Patriots March 2. Although there are no set tenders at this point given the lack of a CBA moving forward, last year a second-round tender came with a salary of $1.68 million. Green-Ellis, a former undrafted free agent, rushed for 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns in a breakout third season.
Stroud Finds A New Home
--DT Marcus Stroud signed a two-year deal with New England March 1. The 10-year veteran spent the last two seasons in Buffalo after his Pro-Bowl tenure with the Jaguars. The 32-year-old Stroud was released by the Bills last month after failing a physical. Stroud brings depth and insurance to a New England defensive line that has Mike Wright coming back from major concussion problems, Ty Warren returning from hip surgery that cost him the entire 2010 season and Gerard Warren set to hit free agency. A three-time Pro Bowler and 2005 All-Pro, Stroud had 49 tackles and three sacks last year in a somewhat rocky transition to 3-4 end for Buffalo.
Bracing For Impact
--DT Ron Brace is recovering from surgery to repair a torn muscle around his left elbow, an injury that landed him on injured reserve prior to the Patriots' playoff loss to the Jets. Though he's been working hard with New England's medical staff to be ready and at full strength for 2011, those workouts will be hindered if there is a lockoutinjured players. "I've been at the facility every day working on rehabbing my elbow. If there's a lockout, I won't be able to continue working with the trainers and doctors at the stadium."
McGowan Off To The Market
--S Brandon McGowan is set to hit free agency whenever a new CBA is hammered out and allows for it. McGowan missed all of last season with a pectoral injury after starting 11 of his 16 games played as a pleasant surprise in his first season in New England in 2009.
"It's fine; I've been through it before," McGowan said of free agency during a recent charity event. "I'm always prepared for anything."
McGowan said his rehab has gone well and that he'd be ready for training camp if it started right now. But he knows his future in New England is very much up in the air at this point.
"I love the team," McGowan said. "You've got great coaching, and you've got great players."
No News For You
--The Patriots were one of just six teams that didn't have a press conference with either their head coach or top personnel man at the Combine, but New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio did take a few minutes to speak with Patriots.com while in Indianapolis. One topic that Caserio touched on was the valuing of owning the 33rd pick in the draft, the first selection of the second round to open the second day of the draft. In theory that pick should have great value as teams restack their draft boards and look at talent that may have somewhat surprisingly slipped out of the first round a day earlier.
"I think when you get to that point there are going to be 32 players that have been picked, but there is still going to be a large pool of players that are available," Caserio told Patriots Today. "So depending on a team need or a level of interest in a particular player then that would maybe dictate if another team has any interest in that pick. But by the same token we're looking at it as we'll do what every other team does, we'll look at what's remaining, we'll prepare a plan for the next day and we'll deal with it as it comes."
--Kyle Arrington, an exclusive rights free agent, has received a $480,000 tender from the Patriots. After joining the Patriots from the practice squad as a solid special teamer in 2009, Arrington started 14 of 16 games played last fall at cornerback. He finished with 67 tackles and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown, while continuing to be a force in the kicking game ranking third on the team with 16 special teams tackles. Arrington originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Hofstra with the Eagles, spending time in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay before landing in New England.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I haven't talked to Rob yet. He's kind of hard to get a hold of. He's gone big time now." - University of Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed with a smile, talking about former college teammate Rob Gronkowski, who had 42 catches and 10 touchdowns as a second-round rookie in New England.