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After making a splash by letting Wes Welker walk and signing Danny Amendola, the New England Patriots continued their active ways in the free agent market by making a flurry of signings over the past couple of days, as well as hosting a number of free agents.
Take a deep breath, Patriots fans. There’s a lot going on in Foxborough for you to keep track of.
In addition to Amendola, the Patriots have now added return specialist Leon Washington on a one-year deal, wide receiver Donald Jones, re-signed cornerback Kyle Arrington to a reported four-year, $16 million contract, and (UPDATE! I meant it when I said take a deep breath, things are moving fast in the world of Bill Belichick) signed safety Adrian Wilson.
It wasn’t all additions, however, as running back Danny Woodhead departed to sign a two-year contract with the San Diego Chargers.
Though Washington will provide some depth in the New England backfield in support of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen — not to mention second-year players Brandon Bolden and the track-minded Jeff Demps — in all likelihood he will serve mainly as the Patriots kickoff and punt returner on special teams. Last season with the Seattle Seahawks, Washington averaged 29 yards per kickoff return (2nd in the NFL) and nearly 9 yards per punt return (20th). For his seven-year career, Washington has 8 returns for touchdowns, all on kickoffs, and over 11,000 all purpose yards. This will mark his return to the AFC East, where he spent the first four seasons of his career with the New York Jets.
The 25-year-old Jones will remain in the AFC East, where he spent his first three seasons with the Buffalo Bills. In 12 games last season, the 6-foot, 208-pound Jones caught 41 passes on 67 targets, accumulating 443 receiving yards with 4 touchdowns. All were career highs.
The Patriots are also speaking with Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, who currently has a $1.3 million offer from his old team. If New England were to sign Sanders, Pittsburgh would have the chance to match, although the Steelers are already strapped for cap space. New England would lose its third round draft choice with the signing, one of only five picks in the upcoming draft.
On the other side of the ball, Arrington’s contract is for a guaranteed $8.5 million. Playing mostly out of the slot in the nickel defense, Arrington had 11 passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 74 tackles in 2012. He had no interceptions one year removed from his seven-interception 2011 season. The signing was an important one, as free agent cornerback Aqib Talib is no guarantee to return and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard may face a suspension for his assault of a police officer while attending the University of Nebraska.
New England also hosted veteran defensive ends Dwight Freeney and John Abraham as well as Wilson on visits earlier on Friday. Wilson apparently liked what he saw, as he has already reached a three-year agreement with the Patriots. Only time will tell if Freeney and Abraham, 33 and 34 respectively, join Wilson and the rest of the no-longer-free-agent members of the new look New England Patriots.
Annnnd breathe. Head spinning yet? Let’s hope not, because it’s only Day 4 of NFL free agency. A lot more moves await…
Tags: Adrian Wilson, AFC East, Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Danny Woodhead, Donald Jones, Dwight Freeney, Emmanuel Sanders, Kyle Arrington, Leon Washington, New York Jets, NFL Free Agency, Pittsburgh Steelers, Wes Welker