Insiders: Strategy and Personnel

The New England Patriots have added not just a linebacker and a lineman, but they've quietly signed up a new member to their personnel department. Although the team is not commenting, the Insiders have a little more information about this new member. More on the Patriots strategy and personnel moves so far this offseason.Not An Insider yet? Check out our Special Offer! to get a free Patriots DVD

PHOTO: New England Patriots wide reciever P.K. Sam, runs drills as fellow wide reciver Bethel Johnson (81) looks on during practice Thursday, Oct. 7, 2004 at Gilette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho)

NEWS & NOTES

-- Wide receiver P.K. Sam, who was moved from injured reserve to the reserve/suspended list for violating team rules just before the Patriots left for Super Bowl XXXIX, has hitched his wagon to Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch this offseason while hoping to prove he belongs. "I've bonded with Deion," he said. "Obviously he's a great player and I'm trying to learn from him. We're basically like brothers now. I go over his house and if I need anything he'll help me out."

-- The Patriots have added former Saints scout Tim Heffelfinger to their personnel department, according to a published report. The team did not confirm Heffelfinger's addition, but the Times-Picayune of New Orleans originally reported the move. He worked as an assistant coach at UCLA from 1996-1998 before joining the Saints. The Patriots do not release changes to the personnel department.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Seemingly never satisfied with the depth or competition at any position heading into training camp, the Patriots added offensive tackle Victor Leyva, 27, last week to compete with a group that most notably includes Tom Ashworth, Brandon Gorin, Matt Light and possibly rookie draft picks Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur.

The 6-4, 307-pound Leyva is entering his fourth NFL season and has played in 10 career games, all with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2002. He was originally drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. He played three seasons with Cincinnati before being released before the start of the 2004 season. He was out of football last year. Miami signed him on Jan. 19, but waived him on April 28.

FRANCHISE PLAYER
--PK Adam Vinatieri (signed tender of $2.51M).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--RB Rabih Abdullah is a special teamer and reserve running back with the size and physical stature the Patriots like. He could get a training camp invite because New England doesn't have much depth at the position. Cedric Cobbs' potential and Kory Chapman's play in Europe could impact Abdullah's status especially with young players like safety Guss Scott and Benjamin Watson returning from injury and expected to play on special teams. Signing him is not an immediate priority.
--WR Troy Brown carried a cap number of $5.7 million into 2005 with $5 million in new money so after trying to negotiate those numbers down, the Patriots declined to pick up a team option that would have required a $2.5 million March 2 bonus payment. Brown was looking for No. 2 receiver money for three years and the Pats were apparently offering No. 3 receiver type dollars. The two sides are likely to continue negotiations, and Brown could be back in the mix.
--S Je'Rod Cherry is a special teamer who won't likely be re-signed. With Scott returning from a knee injury, Cherry, who once again performed well in the kicking game, is expendable and is the type of player New England would look to sign during the season as an injury replacement if he were available.
--WR Kevin Kasper won't likely be re-signed unless the Patriots become thin at wide receiver over the next two months. Then, if Kasper is still available, he could be signed in May or June to compete for a job in camp.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--OL Gene Mruczkowski (tendered at $305,000) has been with the team in some capacity - either the practice squad or the active roster -- for a couple of seasons and seems to be progressing. He will be tendered and brought to camp to battle for a job. His ability to play guard and center helps his chances since the Patriots have no true backup center on the roster.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--OT Tom Ashworth: RFA; $1.43M/1 yr.
--LB Don Davis: UFA; terms unknown.
--WR David Givens: RFA; $1.43M/1 yr.
--OT Brandon Gorin: Potential RFA; $2.3M/3 yrs, $400,000 SB.
--DL Jarvis Green: RFA; $1.43M/1 yr.
--DT Ethan Kelley: ERFA; $305,000/1 yr.
--OG Stephen Neal: RFA; $1.43M/1 yr.
--FB Patrick Pass: UFA; $1.36M/2 yrs, $150,000 SB; 2005 cap: $615,000.
--CB Hank Poteat: FA, had been released by Patriots; terms unknown.
--S Guss Scott: ERFA; $305,000/1 yr.
--PK Adam Vinatieri: Franchise FA: $2.51M/1 yr.
--TE Jed Weaver: FA, had been released by Patriots; terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--LB Monty Beisel: UFA Chiefs; $1.65M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB; 2005 cap: $750,000.
--LB Chad Brown: FA Seahawks; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR/KR Tim Dwight: FA Chargers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Doug Flutie: FA Chargers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WLB/SS Wes Mallard: Not tendered as RFA by Giants; terms unknown.
--CB Chad Scott: FA Steelers; terms unknown.
--CB Duane Starks (trade Cardinals).
--WR David Terrell: FA Bears; $900,000/1 yr, $200,000 SB.

PLAYERS LOST
--OG Joe Andruzzi: UFA Browns; $9M/4 yrs, SB unknown.
--TE Zeron Flemister (released).
--OT Adrian Klemm: UFA Packers; $2.6M/2 yrs, $800,000 SB/$200,000 RB '06.
--CB Ty Law (released).
--QB Jim Miller: UFA Giants; $790,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB.
--CB Earthwind Moreland (released).
--WR David Patten: UFA Redskins; $13M/5 yrs, $3.5M SB.
--LB Roman Phifer (released/failed physical).
--DT Keith Traylor (released).


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