Free Agent Primer: Outside Linebackers

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Free Agent Primer: Outside Linebackers

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.comThis is the sixth in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position: Outside linebacker.
Who's here?Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham, Marques Murrell, Markell Carter, Eric Moore.

Who's out there?
Manny Lawson (49ers), Rocky McIntosh (Redskins), Matt Roth (Browns), Thomas Howard (Raiders), Antwan Barnes (Chargers), Mike Vrabel (Chiefs).What's the need?
From 1-10? Let's call it an8. Blame it on Adalius. After seasons of seemingly having the DEOLB position figured out with a succession of good to great players, the Patriots paid fat cash for Adalius Thomas as a free agent in 2007. He was happy to take the money and run half speed. And now the Patriots seem in a funk when addressing the position. They are loathe to go back to free agency tofind an answer but - in a draft allegedly loaded with 3-4 outside backers, the Patriots didn't take one until Sunday (Markell Carter). As for the guys currently here, Cunningham has promise and Banta-Cain is due for a solid season in his on-again, off-again pattern. I think Moore - who signed with the Patriots in late 2010 - is an under-the-radar find as well. And Ninkovich won't hurt you much. But they still don't have a "star" at a position which most teams try to find or create. Who do they chase?
The smart money has been on them pursuing Roth - and it does make sense. As Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network recently pointed out, Roth is a seemingly good fit for the Patriots. He's 6-4, 275, has extensive experience in the 3-4, is just 28 years old and played for Belichick buddy Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. He's the most interesting prospect on the market. Who do we look at next?
Inside linebackers.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell gets a new deal . . . with Scholastic Books

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Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell gets a new deal . . . with Scholastic Books

Second-year Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell already had a children's book published before he was drafted last year. Now he has a three-book deal with children's book publisher Scholastic. 

The three books will include a newly-illustrated edition of his self-published first crack at the children's book genre, "The Magician Hat," according to the Associated Press. That will come out in May of next year and be followed up by two more original works. 

Mitchell has been a children's literacy advocate since before joining the Patriots. That he joined a reading club -- made up mostly of women twice his age or more -- was quickly seized upon by multiple media outlets in the build-up to last year's draft as one of the feel-good stories in that year's class of prospects. 

Mitchell has founded a youth literacy initiative called Read With Malcolm, and he's the Patriots "Summer Reading Ambassador," encouraging young students to read as much as possible during the summer months. He hosted reading rallies across New England that began in Roxbury, Mass. back in March and finished up last week at The Hall at Patriot Place.