according to reiss. Bruschi is dissapointed, a player who the Pats made (Neal) says it was not his first choice to sign with the Pats. Lot of negative energy this offseason. Neal checks in Give Patriots guard Stephen Neal credit for his honesty. When reflecting on his first foray into unrestricted free agency, he admitted he had no idea what to expect. He also acknowledged the Patriots werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t his first choice, and that money was a strong factor in his decision-making process. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rare to hear such candor. Ã¢â‚¬Å“To be honest with you, if I could be closer to California, that was going to be a big deal,Ã¢â‚¬ Neal, a San Diego native, told a group of reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t work out that way. The Patriots were the best fit for me and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m glad to be back.Ã¢â‚¬ The 29-year-old Neal, who has started the last 30 regular-season games at right guard, confirmed that he visited with the Vikings, Bills and Dolphins during free agency. A scheduled trip to the Texans was cancelled at the last moment. On the role of money in negotiations, Neal said Ã¢â‚¬Å“it is not the most important thingÃ¢â‚¬ but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“up there.Ã¢â‚¬ NealÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s four-year deal is worth approximately $10.5 million. It included a $3.2 signing bonus, a workout bonus of $106,160 in 2006, and workout bonuses of $106,720 in each season from 2007-2009. With Neal under contract through 2009, the Patriots now have five of their top seven linemen signed for multiple seasons: Matt Light (2010), Logan Mankins (2009), Nick Kaczur (2009) and Brandon Gorin (2007). Center Dan Koppen and center/guard Russ Hochstein have contracts that expire after 2006. Asked about the role of continuity on the offensive line, Neal said the longer you play with teammates Ã¢â‚¬Å“you feel more comfortable and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to say as much because you know what the other person will do.Ã¢â‚¬ Neal said he learned a few different things from going through the free agent process, and one reflected positively on the Patriots. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everyone has a lot of respet for this organization,Ã¢â‚¬ he said.