Foxborough, Mass. - Just one day after arguably the biggest loss for the Patriots in off-season talent with Adam Vinatieri's signing in Indianapolis, the Patriots took a big step toward placating the fan base by signing one of their own. Fan favorite Troy Brown agreed to a new deal to return to Foxborough to play for the Patriots for a 14th season.
The Patriots made a number of roster moves in the last few days, all of which were signing players who were with the team last season. In addition to Brown, the teams signed guard Stephen Neal, fullback Heath Evans and defensive back Chad Scott.
|WR Troy Brown|
WR Troy Brown
Brown, 34, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the eight-round of the 1993 NFL Draft (198th overall). In addition to handling punts and filling in as the number three receiver, the former Marshall product has spent time as an extra defensive back for the Patriots the last two seasons.
Brown is the first long time veteran of the team to re-sign with the Patriots. His return comes after a wave of high-profile departures including wide receiver David Givens (Titans), linebacker Willie McGinest (Browns) and kicker Adam Vinatieri (Colts).
Brown is the Patriots leading punt returner with 244 returns for 2,554 yards.
|OL Stephen Neal|
OG Stephen Neal
Neal, 28, joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2001. A former wrestler at Cal-State Bakersfield, Neal was the team's starting guard in 2005, the only starting member of the line to finish last season and end the 2005 season without missing a game. He has made 30 starts at right guard.
Neal and tackle Tom Ashworth were the Patriots free agent linemen who have drawn interest from other teams. Neal visited with the Bills, Texans and Vikings before opting to return to New England.
A fifth-year veteran, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman will return to the unit that includes Logan Mankins, Nick Kaczur, Russ Hochstein and Brandon Gorin. Dan Koppen and Matt Light are expected to return from injury to resume their starting roles.
|DB Chad Scott|
CB Chad Scott
Free agent DB Chad Scott was re-signed by the Patriots the team announced on Wednesday. The one-time Pittsburgh Steeler joined the Patriots April 26, 2005 as an unrestricted free agent.
Scott, 31, was part of the competition for playing time with other defensive backs such as Duane Starks, Randall Gay, Ellis Hobbs and others. Bill Belichick spoke highly of Scott during training camp praising his professionalism and work ethic.
Scott saw limited action on the field before ending the season on injured reserve October 12, 2005. He is the third free agent defensive back to re-sign with the team for 2006, Hank Poteat and Artrell Hawkins also re-signed with the team.
|FB Heath Evans|
FB Heath Evans
Patriots' free agent FB Heath Evans will return to the team for the 2006 season according to published reports. Evans, 27, joined the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent November 1, 2005, after Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk were both sidelined by injuries. The former Auburn product was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft (82nd overall).
Evans had a career best game against his former team, the Miami Dolphins, in his first real action for the Patriots on November 13, 2005. Evans recorded 17 carries for 84 yards (4.9 avg) with three receptions for 18 yards.
The Patriots released a pair of players, saw some of their free agents sign elsewhere as expected and lost an opportunity to
WR Tim Dwight (Jets)
Dwight joined the New York Jets this week, citing his comfort with offensive coordinator Biran Schottenheimer and familiarity with the scheme as being attractive to him. He will also have a better opportunity to compete for playing time in New York as the No. 3 receiver as opposed to being the fourth or fifth option in New England.
OT Tom Ashworth (Seahawks)
Ashworth opted to join the Seattle Seahawks in lieu of returning to compete for a roster spot in New England. At one time, the former Colorado Buffalo was the starting right tackle for the Patriots before injuries sidelined him. Upon his return, late in 2005, Brandon Gorin continued to man the right tackle spot while Ashworth spent time as an extra tight end and blocking fullback in short yardage situations. He received a five-year $13 million deal to join Seattle. The Seahawks needed additional line depth after losing guard Steve Hutchinson to the Vikings earlier.
K Adam Vinatieri (Colts)
In one of the biggest surprise losses for the Patriots, kicker Adam Vinatieri opted to join the Indianapolis Colts. Vinatieri, 33, is known around the league for making clutch kicks in big games, something the Colts former kicker Mike Vanderjagt was unable to accomplish.
Vinatieri's former agent Neil Cornrich had tried to negotiate a new deal with the team in 2005, but both sides were unable to reach an agreement. The Patriots opted to use the franchise tag to keep him from testing free agency, which required them to pay him $2.5 million in salary. By not franchising him for the 2006 season New England avoided having to pay him over $3 million for the year, but lost out in a bidding war for his services. Vinatieri fired Cornrich's firm after visiting the Green Bay Packers last week. His new agent, Gary Uberstine, wasted little time in getting a deal done. Vinatieri signed a five-year, $10-million deal with the Colts on Thursday.
DB Tyrone Poole signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders on Monday, after three seasons with the Patriots. The oft-injured defensive back managed to appear in only six games in the last two seasons, after playing in all 16 regular season games his first year with the team.
DB Duane Starks also signed a deal with the Oakland Raiders this week. Starks who was acquired in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals during the 2005 off-season, never managed to make the impact the Patriots had hoped for when they obtained him.
Other previous departures include, WR Andre Davis, who like Starks joined the Patriots for one season in a trade deal. He moved on from New England to join the Bills. WR David Givens made the most of his number two status by parlaying that into a deal with the Tennessee Titans. Long time linebacker Willie McGinest used his record-setting postseason to wrangle a new deal with the Cleveland Browns. LB Matt Chatham took advantage of his familiarity with Jets Coach Eric Mangini to work a new deal in New York. TE Christian Fauria joined the Redskins to fill their vacant position and LB Chad Brown who was released by the Patriots continues to ponder his options.