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Lynch is expected to visit Foxborough

Courtship of former Bucs safety begins

FOXBOROUGH -- The plot thickened for the Patriots and Ty Law last night.

While Law was a guest on James Brown's Sporting News Radio syndicated talk show, pleading his case and saying again that head coach Bill Belichick had "lied" to him, Belichick was welcoming former Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro safety John Lynch in for a visit that could hasten Law's departure.

According to sources in the Patriots' organization, Lynch was expected to arrive in Foxborough last night. The 32-year-old veteran was released last week by the Bucs after they declined to agree to a restructured contract that would have paid Lynch $4.1 million this season and $5 million in 2005.

Long known for the same kind of bone-jarring hits that Rodney Harrison brought to New England when he came over from the San Diego Chargers a year ago, Lynch has said he is interested in the Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, or being reunited with his former secondary coach, Herman Edwards, who is now the Jets' head coach.

If the Patriots were able to reach a satisfactory financial deal with Lynch, they could then shift last year's rookie sensation, Eugene Wilson, back to cornerback, giving New England a threesome of Wilson, Asante Samuel, and veteran Tyrone Poole. While none of them are the equal of Law, if the Patriots believe that trio was more than serviceable they could release or trade Law, saving either salary cap space or acquiring additional future draft choices to continue the never-ending process of rebuilding today's game demands.

The Buccaneers believe Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, has begun to lose a step and is no longer the same devastating hitter. Tampa intends to replace him with untested fourth-year pro Jermaine Phillips.

The same was said of Harrison in San Diego when the Chargers didn't want to pay him any more and he came to New England and played the position last season at a Pro Bowl level.

It is expected Lynch will also visit at least Indianapolis and the Jets before he reaches a decision, but he is smart enough to know that after the first blush of free agency passes, the money dries up in a hurry and the bottom-feeding begins. . . .
The Patriots will begin their trophy tour Sunday, bringing the Super Bowl Trophy to a parade in Manchester, N.H. The trophy will be part of Manchester's St. Patrick's Day weekend parade.

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