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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Davis tackles contract extension quickly

Don Davis, who led the Patriots with 25 special teams tackles last season, has signed a one-year, $795,000 contract extension to return to the team. The deal includes a $25,000 signing bonus.

The contract qualifies for the minimum salary benefit, meaning Davis will count just $485,000 against the salary cap.

Davis, who is entering his 11th NFL season, was one of 17 Patriots scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 3. Negotiating his extension without an agent, the 33-year-old said the deal came together shortly after the team's playoff loss to the Broncos Jan. 14.

''Being an older player and knowing my role with the team, it was pretty straightforward," he said. ''There wasn't a lot of negotiation involved with it."

Davis initially signed with the Patriots in 2003. He had previous stints with the Rams (2001-02), Buccaneers (1998-2000), and Saints (1996-98), after entering the league in 1995 as a rookie free agent with the Jets.

''When I started playing, the idea was to get vested [by playing three years]," Davis said. ''It was a struggle to get there, but once it happened, I was thinking, 'Maybe I can get two more.' And the years just kept adding. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be playing in Year 11."

Window shopping

Tomorrow marks the start of a two-week window in which teams can officially designate free agents as franchise or transition players. Last year, the Patriots designated kicker Adam Vinatieri their franchise player. A franchise player receives the average salary of the top five players at his position as part of a one-year deal, or if it turns out to be greater, a 120 percent raise on his previous year's salary. Other teams can still attempt to sign a franchise player, but the player's original team has the right to match. If the original team doesn't match the offer, it receives two first-round draft choices as compensation. A transition player receives the average salary of the top 10 players at his position. Other teams can still attempt to sign a transition player, but the player's original team has the right to match any offer and keep the player. The designation period ends Feb. 23 . . . According to published reports, the Patriots have inquired about former Vikings defensive assistant Chuck Knox Jr. and current University of Michigan quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler as possible additions to their staff.

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