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No love in their X's and O's

Page 2 of 4 -- Free agent wide receiver Derrick Mason chose Baltimore over New England for family and geographical reasons despite the Patriots reportedly offering more money. The Mason courtship is an obvious sign that the Patriots are in the market for a big-time receiver.

Will they enter the Plaxico Burress sweepstakes or will they opt for a top receiver in the draft?

The inside linebacker market also will be interesting.

Ted Johnson would certainly love to play more, but it appears the Patriots will try to add at least one more inside linebacker in free agency and one in the draft. Pittsburgh's Kendrell Bell seems perfect. Then again, given their depth on the defensive line, they could play more 4-3 than 3-4 next season.

The Patriots' philosophy has worked very well, but the pain in Andruzzi's voice is clear when he talks about leaving, even though he'll more than double his paycheck with the Cleveland Browns. Brown went on vacation last week after hearing the news of his release, trying to get away from the disappointment and dealing with what could be a crossroads in his career.

Patten had one of the greatest games in Patriots history against Indianapolis on Oct. 21, 2001, when he rushed for a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass, and caught a touchdown pass. He made numerous other big plays throughout his tenure. He was certainly disappointed about leaving, disappointed his playing time had dwindled late in the season.

"After what happened to Lawyer, that showed me right there it's a business," said Law. "A lot of guys understand that, but when it happens to them, when they get cut out of the blue, that's when it really hits home for them. That's when they really understand what they thought they understood."

Weis offers a few final reflections

Snippets from a recent conversation with Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis:

On Troy Brown: "Troy will always be a very dependable slot receiver between now and the day he retires. That could be five years from now and he'll be able to get the job done. He might not be an every-down player anymore, but he can do the job." Asked whether Brown felt the strain of wearing too many hats, Weis said, "I think if you ask him he probably thought it was pretty cool. Certainly a tribute to him. I think the strain was far more mental than physical."

On why he didn't take coach Jeff Davidson (now the Browns' offensive line coach) to Notre Dame: "Jeff and I are very close. He was often a sounding board for me. I'd love to work with Jeff again, but I promised Bill [Belichick] I wouldn't take anyone and I kept that promise. I don't regret it. Jeff will do a great job in Cleveland, and I've been able to assemble an excellent staff here."   Continued...

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