The club also on Friday waived quarterback Tom Brandstater and released offensive lineman Maurice Williams.
Eckel (5-foot-11, 237 pounds) is a fourth-year player who has appeared in 24 career regular-season games (2 starts) in the NFL with New Orleans (2009), Philadelphia (2008), New England (2007, '05) and Miami (2005-06). Eckel, who entered the NFL with the Patriots as a college free agent from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005, has totaled 59 career rushes for 175 yards (3.0 avg.) with two touchdowns along with three receptions for 20 yards (6.7 avg.).
In the postseason, Eckel has seen time in eight games, including the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV win against Indianapolis on Feb. 7.
Eckel totaled 2,906 career rushing yards, 25 rushing touchdowns and 13 100-yard rushing games during his time at Navy. He became only the third player in school history to register two 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
A three-year letterwinner in football and baseball at Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pa., Eckel was born on Dec. 30, 1981.
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