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Tallying Patriots’ Moves After First Wave of Free Agency

Former Bills wideout Stevie Johnson has caught 32 passes versus New England. (NFL Game Rewind)

Stevie Johnson visited the Patriots to start free agency’s second week. (NFL Game Rewind)

The first wave of NFL free agency crashed down on the New England Patriots, seeing the likes of Shane Vereen, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner head into shore with the New York Giants, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, respectively.

But now, a week out, it’s time to revisit where head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the Patriots stand.

It’s time to see what’s been retained, added and subtracted from the roster. And also, what’s remaining heading into the second week.

Retained

Devin McCourty signed a five-year deal before the new league year. (NFL Game Rewind)

Devin McCourty signed a five-year deal before the new league year. (NFL Game Rewind)

  • Stephen Gostkowski, Kicker: The two-time Pro Bowler was franchise tagged at the March 2 deadline, after going 35-of-37 on field goals in 2014 to set a new franchise mark at 94.5 percent. The tag keeps New England’s all-time scoring leader in the fold for a 10th season on a one-year, $4.59 million deal.
  • Devin McCourty, Safety: The former first-round cornerback out of Rutgers agreed to a five-year, $47.5 million deal with the Patriots late on Sunday, March 8. McCourty, a three-time team captain and two-time second-team All-Pro, turns 28 in August.
  • James Develin, Fullback: An exclusive-rights free agent, Develin was tendered a contract by the Patriots before the 4 p.m. deadline March 10. The 26-year-old has played in 33 regular-season games for New England since signing to the practice squad in 2012, factoring in on special teams, as a tight end, and as a lead blocker.
  • Sealver Siliga, Defensive Tackle: The Patriots re-signed the 6-foot-2, 325-pound Siliga, who was also an exclusive-rights free agent, on March 10. The 24-year-old has started nine regular-season contests for the team since joining the New England’s practice squad in 2013.
  • James Morris, Linebacker: The Iowa Hawkeyes product was tendered a contract by the Patriots on March 10, having spent his rookie season on the club’s injured reserve. Morris, an exclusive-rights free agent, originally signed with New England last May, receiving $20,000 between his bonus and guarantees, but was waived with a failed physical designation before returning in August.
  • Brian Tyms, Wide Receiver: Tyms was not tendered a contract by the Patriots at the start of the new league year, yet the exclusive-rights free agent did re-sign with the team the following day. The 6-foot-3, 204-pound target caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown for New England last season, also contributing on special teams.
  • Chris White, Linebacker: The Patriots re-signed White, an unrestricted free agent, on March 11. The 26-year-old linebacker has appeared on special teams in 29 games since being claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions in September of 2013.
  • Alan Branch, Defensive Tackle: The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Branch rejoined New England on March 14, after originally signing with the organization in October. The 30-year-old proceeded to play in the final 11 games through the Super Bowl, providing versatility, run support and bull rush to the defensive line rotation.

Added

New England added former second-round pick Jabaal Sheard. (NFL Game Rewind)

New England added former second-round pick Jabaal Sheard. (NFL Game Rewind)

  • Tyler Ott, Long Snapper: After a stint with the Patriots this past summer, the undrafted free agent out of Harvard returned on March 4. Ott, a former tight end, is presently the lone long snapper on New England’s roster.
  • Brandon Gibson, Wide Receiver: The former Philadelphia Eagle, St. Louis Ram and Miami Dolphin, Gibson agreed to a one-year, $825,000 deal with the Patriots on March 10. In 2011, Gibson caught 36 passes for 431 yards and one touchdown under current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in St. Louis.
  • Kevin Dorsey, Wide Receiver: Following a free-agent visit with the Patriots in February, Dorsey signed with the team on March 11. A 2013 Green Bay Packers seventh-round pick, the Maryland Terrapin has gone on to play in three regular-season games, registering one reception for four yards and two special-teams tackles.
  • Jabaal Sheard, Defensive End: The top open-market signing New England has made, Sheard was added on a two-year, $11 million deal March 11.  A Cleveland Browns second-rounder out of Pittsburgh back in 2011, the 25-year-old has since collected 23 sacks between 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker. He led the Browns in sacks and forced fumbles as a rookie.
  • Chimdi Chekwa, Cornerback: Chekwa signed a one-year deal with the Patriots on March 11, after recording 51 tackles, four pass deflections and a forced fumble over 32 games with the Oakland Raiders. The 2011 fourth-round pick served primarily on special teams during his tenure in Oakland, yet was not tendered a contract by the organization as a restricted free agent.
  • Jonathan Freeny, Outside Linebacker: Freeny agreed to terms with New England on March 12, after carving a spot on the Dolphins’ special-teams units for 44 games since 2011. A Rutgers grad, the 6-foot-2, 254-pound Freeny once played defensive end alongside future Patriots in McCourty, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Tim Wright.
  • Scott Chandler, Tight End: Known to pose a problem for the Patriots’ secondary over his tenure with the Buffalo Bills, Chandler signed with his former AFC East rival on March 13. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end by way of Iowa has recorded 28 catches for 384 yards and four scores in nine career games versus New England.

Subtracted

Darrelle Revis returned to the Jets on a five-year, $70 million pact. (NFL Game Rewind)

Darrelle Revis returned to the Jets on a five-year, $70 million pact. (NFL Game Rewind)

  • Greg Orton, Wide Receiver: An exclusive-rights free agent, Orton was not tendered a contract by the Patriots on March 10. The 28-year-old wideout, who has been a member of three NFL teams, two AFL teams and one UFL team, tore his Achilles in training camp last summer. He was originally signed onto New England’s practice squad in December of 2013.
  • Shane Vereen, Running Back: Fresh off an 11-catch performance in Super Bowl XLIX, Vereen now has a fresh start with the Giants as of March 10. The 2011 second-round pick out of California amassed 907 rushing yards yards, 1,023 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns over four seasons with New England.
  • Jonathan Casillas, Linebacker: Joining Vereen in New York is Casillas, who signed a three-year deal, $10.5 million deal as an unrestricted free agent March 10. Casillas had previously found a role in New England’s kicking game and provided depth to the linebacker position, notching 31 tackles and a forced fumble over 11 games and three starts in 2014. The 27-year-old was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the trade deadline – along with a sixth-rounder – for a fifth-rounder.
  • Darrelle Revis, Cornerback: After a 363-day stay with the Patriots, Revis returned to the Jets on a five-year, $70 million deal with $39 million guaranteed after free agency opened. The 29-year-old corner intercepted three passes and limited quarterbacks to 44-of-85 passing for Patriots in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus. He was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler during his short tenure in Foxborough.
  • Brandon Browner, Cornerback: Two days after Revis’ departure, the cornerback across from him in New England followed suit, agreeing to a three-year deal worth roughly $18 million with the Saints. The Patriots passed on the 30-year-old Browner’s $4.8 million option March 10, and allowed him to explore his value around the league prior to then.
  • Akeem Ayers, Defensive End: Ayers found a new home in St. Louis by agreeing to a two-year pact on March 12, two days removed from the Sheard signing. A Tennessee Titans second-round pick in 2011, Ayers spent the final five months of the 2014 season with the Patriots after being acquired with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth. The 25-year-old lined up at defensive end, outside linebacker and on special teams for New England.
  • Vince Wilfork, Defensive Tackle: Since the Patriots declined to pick up Wilfork’s two-year option, the 33-year-old has found a familiar destination in Houston with the Texans. The seven-time captain and five-time Pro Bowler announced the move on Monday afternoon as the second week of free agency got underway.

In-House Options Remaining

Stevan Ridley stands in the free-agent waters. (NFL Game Rewind)

Stevan Ridley stands in the waters of unrestricted free agency. (NFL Game Rewind)

  • Stevan Ridley, Running Back: The former third-round draft choice out of LSU is now an unrestricted free agent, working back following a season cut short by a torn ACL and MCL in October. Ridley posted a 1,200-yard, 12-touchdown season for the Patriots in 2012, and could present value to a team looking to bolster the running game in the later stages of free agency.
  • Dan Connolly, Guard: The 32-year-old interior offensive lineman was a Patriots captain for the first time in 2014, and now he finds himself an unrestricted free agent heading into 2015. Since arriving in New England in 2008, Connolly has started 71 of his 84 games, spelling between center, left guard and right guard. He logged over 1,000 snaps for the Patriots this past season.
  • Danny Aiken, Long Snapper: Aiken, who’s now unrestricted, has snapped in all but one game for the Patriots since joining the team in 2011. The former undrafted free agent via Virginia was waived and re-signed this past August as the organization sorted out the 53-man roster.

Outside Options Remaining

Pierre Thomas was released by the Saints on March 4. (NFL Game Rewind)

Pierre Thomas was released by the Saints on March 4. (NFL Game Rewind)

  • Colin McCarthy, Linebacker: The former fourth-round selection had a free-agent visit with the Patriots on March 11, after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Titans. The 26-year-old linebacker and special-teamer missed all of 2014 with a shoulder injury, but started five of 16 games to record 55 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in 2013.
  • Stevie Johnson, Wide Receiver: Johnson was in for a visit with the Patriots on Monday, yet left without a deal, according to NBC4’s Dianna Marie Russini. The 28-year-old wideout spent this past season with the San Francisco 49ers, after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Bills, where he picked up three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Johnson has caught 32 passes for 421 yards and four touchdowns versus New England.
  • Pierre Thomas, Running Back: The longtime Saints ball-carrier was released by the organization March 4, and while he hasn’t visited with the Patriots since then, his abilities as a receiver could make him a fit for the vacant third-down role. New England’s options remain open there, and another back like Thomas could be added to supplement 2014 fourth-round pick James White. Fellow free-agent receiving backs in Roy Helu and Reggie Bush did garner interest, but both have since signed elsewhere.

1 Comment

  1. Great Job Oliver! Always enjoy your posts. I am thinking Patriots will make a draft day trade for Doug Martin – filling the role as 3rd down back.

    Peace,
    Joe E O

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