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Patriots sack McGinest in cap-cutting move

All-time postseason sack leader Willie McGinest has been sacked by the New England Patriots.

The release of the two-time Pro Bowler was announced Thursday,
the day after the NFL owners voted 30-2 at their meeting in
Grapevine, Texas, to extend the collective bargaining agreement
with the players for six more years, resulting in a new salary cap
figure of $102 million.

The 34-year-old McGinest carried a salary cap figure of more
than $7 million for next season. The veteran linebacker is now a
free agent and can sign with any team, including New England.

The Patriots would reportedly like to re-sign McGinest at a more palatable deal, but sources told The Boston Globe that the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys and several other teams plan to make a run at signing him.

McGinest, who has been with New England his entire career, was
the fourth pick of the 1994 draft out of Southern California. He
played in four Super Bowls, including three Patriots victories. His
16 postseason sacks rank ahead of Bruce Smith (14½) and Reggie
White (12).

The linebacker was second on the Patriots in the 2005 season with six sacks and set a playoff record with 4½ in the team's wild-card victory over the Jaguars.

A two-time Pro Bowler, McGinest ranks third on the Patriots'
all-time sack list with 78, just 1.5 behind Julius Adams. Andre
Tippett tops the list with 100 sacks.

McGinest has played in 171 games, ninth on the Patriots'
all-time list.

Besides McGinest, kicker Adam Vinatieri, wide receivers David
Givens and Troy Brown, tackle Tom Ashworth, receiver and punt
returner Tim Dwight, tight end Christian Fauria, linebackers Don
Davis and Matt Chatham and running back Heath Evans are free
agents.

The Patriots also announced the signing of defensive back
Artrell Hawkins on Thursday.

Hawkins started four of the five games he appeared in and posted 16 tackles, including a season-high seven stops and a sack in a start against Tampa Bay . He started both playoff games at safety and accumulated eight tackles.

Hawkins was drafted in the second round in 1998 by the Bengals.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.