Team Report - NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The SportsXchange

INSIDE SLANT

The Patriots reached agreement with nose tackle Vince Wilfork on a three-year, $22.5 million contract extension.

NFL Media reported that Wilfork's deal averages $7.5 million per year and includes $3 million guaranteed. The deal keeps the 32-year-old veteran in New England after he had requested his release in early March when the Patriots inquired about his willingness to restructure his contract.

Wilfork's previous contract called for him to make $7.5 million during the 2014 season, with an adjusted salary-cap hit of $11.6 million based on the five-year deal he signed in 2010.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said earlier this week that he hoped to keep Wilfork, one of the mainstays of the New England defense, in Foxborough.

His wish was fulfilled.

"Going back over the last 20 years, we've had some pretty special people come through, and (Vince) is one of my personal favorites," Kraft said Monday at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla. "I'm thinking of Tedy Bruschi and Matt Light and Kevin Faulk and Troy Brown, they made their careers with us. I surely hope Vince will be with us next year."

Wilfork suffered a torn Achilles tendon and played in only four games last season. The 6-foot-2, 325-pound lineman has spent all of his 10 years in the NFL with the Patriots, totaling 469 career tackles and 16 sacks.

--Cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in the day, and the New England Patriots reached agreement on a two-year, $32 million deal.

The signing came less than 24 hours after cornerback Aqib Talib left the Patriots for the Denver Broncos. Revis will be paid $12 million this year and $20 million in 2015 when there is a $12 million roster bonus.

The signing gave the Patriots the player they needed to replace cornerback Aqib Talib, who signed with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday night.

Revis was recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee when he joined the Bucs and was given a six-year, $96 million contract. He appeared in all 16 games and made two interceptions and 11 passes defended in his one season with Tampa Bay.

Revis joined Tampa Bay in 2013 for a first-round pick and a conditional draft choice. In his first season with the Buccaneers, Revis started all 16 games, recording 50 tackles, 11 passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one sack.

The Patriots followed the Revis signing by adding another cornerback, former Seattle standout Brandon Browner.

Browner said he is looking forward to being a part of the Patriots' defense. He said, "A lot of the stuff I'll be doing on defense I did in Seattle. The only thing that changes is the terminology. I was also told I'll play a lot of man to man, which is my strong suit. I take it in stride and can't wait to get back out there."

When asked about the possibility of playing safety, Browner said, "They haven't talked to me about playing safety. So far, I'm here to play cornerback, and I play wherever need be. I just want to play some football, and I'm fortunate enough to play for a team like the Pats."

The Patriots officially signed cornerback Darrelle Revis, who said, "My thing is all about winning. I want to win. What better organization than the New England Patriots to be a part of?"

Revis came back from a torn ACL last season to play for Tampa Bay. When asked about the status of his knee last season and how it is now, he said, "It was a long process. I did finish all 16 games. I was slow and maybe sluggish in the beginning of the season but week to week, I got stronger and stronger. Toward the end, I probably felt my best as a football player. That's a thing where it took some time and I thank (the) Tampa Bay Buccaneers for everything they did to help me with my rehab throughout the course of the year. It was a big process to get through that and fight through it but right now I feel great. I'm just ready to play ball."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The NFL announced each team's preseason schedule without precise dates or times, except for national TV games and the final preseason week in which all games will be on Thurs. Aug. 28. Week 1 games are Aug. 7-10, Week 2 Aug. 14-18 and Week 3 Aug. 21-24.

The Patriots will play at home against Philadelphia in Week 2 and Carolina in Week 3, while going on the road to play Washington in Week 1 and the New York Giants in Week 4.

--Head coach Bill Belichick might not show it, but players and those close to him insist the Patriots' stoic head coach possesses a humorous side.

He was all business at Tuesday's AFC coaches breakfast at the league meetings in Orlando when a reporter asked about the health of tight end Rob Gronkowski.

"Did you seriously ask me that?" he panned.

But when the subject matter shifted to his proposal to add cameras throughout stadiums to give officials additional vantage points to access for replay review purposes, Belichick beat back any idea that the plan would be dismissed because of cost concerns.

"We just spent, whatever it was, how many millions of dollars on the replay system," Belichick said. "I mean, there's a thousand cameras in every stadium, so that if somebody spills a beer on somebody, we have it on record, right? Maybe we could have a bake sale. Raise some money for the cameras. Do a car wash."

Belichick and the Patriots made multiple proposals to be voted on this week, including raising the height of the goalposts or moving point-after touchdown tries to the 25-yard line to make placement kicks more challenging.

--After leaving the Patriots in free agency, two former players said the team doesn't always tell the truth on the injury report during the season.

Linebacker Brandon Spikes was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury late in the season amid speculation he was iced for being late for practice.

After signing with the Bills, Spikes said, "I heard they put me on IR and stuff like that. That was just a false report. That's just how things go there. Almost like what happened with Talib and his hip."

That would be cornerback Aqib Talib, who left for Denver recently after a season in which he was often listed on the injury report with a hip problem.

Said Talib, "The Patriots have their way of reporting stuff, but I haven't had a hip problem since Tampa. The injury I had was actually a quad injury. It was reported as a hip injury, but that's how they do things."

--LS Danny Aiken, a potential restricted free agent, re-signed with New England prior to the start of free agency. The three year veteran received a one-year deal worth a total of $725,000. It included a $55,000 signing bonus and $25,000 workout bonus to go with a salary of $645,000. Aiken has handled New England's long snapping duties

--TE Michael Hoomanawanui reportedly reached a two-year deal to return to the Patriots March 10, a day before the backup was set to hit free agency. Hoomanawanui started 10 of the 13 games he played last season for the Patriots depleted tight end spot, catching 12 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. He's shown versatility to block and run routes in his year-plus in New England, but remains a limited option in the passing game and best suited as a third tight end.

--WR Aaron Dobson reportedly underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot March 10. The rookie had missed time on two different occasions during the season to the issue. Initially a plan of rest was put in place this offseason, but when that didn't lead to proper healing surgery became necessary. Recovery from the procedure is expected to take two to three months. That would inhibit Dobson's participation in the New England offseason program, but should have the 2013 second-round pick healthy in time for training camp.

--WR T.J. Moe, an undrafted rookie who spent last season on IR with a torn Achilles, was the most notable name among seven players released by the Patriots on March 10. DL Corey Grissom, LB Taylor Reed and WR Sam McGuffie were also released, while OL Bryce Schwab, OL Elvis Fisher and RB Quentin Hines were all waived after apparently failing physicals.

--LB Brandon Spikes has always been a unique player, even dating back to his days the key defender on Florida's national title teams led by Tim Tebow. As a second-round pick for the Patriots he's dealt with off field issues such as a league suspension, a couple Twitter/online controversies and ending last season on IR, reportedly in part due to missing a day of practice late in the year due to a snowstorm. On the field he's a two-down thumper who brings an impact to every play and has notched consecutive 100-tackle seasons.

Pros and cons aside, both the Patriots and Spikes himself expected to part ways this spring as he hits the open waters of free agency.

"I would never say never," Spikes told NFL Network of a possible return to New England, "you know, everybody (says) you never want to burn a bridge, but I just feel like both sides could benefit from a fresh start.

"That being said, in free agency, I just feel like I'm out here, I'm available, I'm 100 percent. Any team that is willing to take a chance on me, they're going to get a playmaker, a guy that's very aggressive on the field, looking to be a difference-maker."

His time in New England ended when he agreed to a one-year deal with Buffalo March 14.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Patriots gave quarterback Tom Brady another potential target for the 2014 season, agreeing to contract terms with former Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell.

LaFell's deal is for three years, ESPN reported. He will join Julian Edelman, who re-signed with the Patriots on Saturday, and Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins in New England's wide receiver corps.

In four seasons with Carolina, LaFell had 49 receptions for 627 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound LaFell was a third-round pick by the Panthers in the 2010 NFL Draft.

--Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has asked for his release after 10 seasons with the team, according to the NFL Network.

Wilfork is entering the final year of his contract, and the Patriots had reportedly approached him about restructuring his deal, which calls for a base salary of $7.5 million and a total salary-cap charge of $11.6 million for 2014.

Wilfork suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in the fourth game last season. The 32 year old is a five-time Pro Bowl selection who has anchored the interior of New England's 3-4 scheme for the past decade.

Wilfork will turn 33 in November, and wants to continue playing so his desire is to hit the open market as soon as possible, according to the report.

TEAM NEEDS

--TIGHT END: With Rob Gronkowski recovering from yet another injury - a torn ACL - and Aaron Hernandez long gone but hard to forget, what was a strength in New England barely a year ago is now a vacant depth chart. New England needs to add a pass-catching option, likely with an early draft pick, to keep the tight end spot from becoming in the irrelevant afterthought it was in the passing game in 2013 when Gronkowski wasn't on the field.

--SAFETY: The Patriots parted ways with two-year starting safety Steve Gregory, leaving a hole in the middle of the secondary next to Pro Bowler Devin McCourty. The back end sorely needs a strong safety with the ability to tackle well and be an imposing force in the passing game.

--DEFENSIVE END: New England was fortunate that Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones were each able to start all 16 games last fall and play virtually every snap. There is a big drop-off on the depth chart after those two - who wore down late in the year - and a proven veteran free agent option will likely be considered a year after the team flirted with John Abraham.

PERSONNEL TRACKER

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--DE Andre Carter returned to the Patriots for a second tour midway through last season and took on a role as a rotational pass rusher in the nine games he played, notching two sacks. The 13-year veteran has said the only team that would keep him from retirement is the Patriots. New England is likely going to look to upgrade at the spot.

--WR Austin Collie bounced on and off the Patriots roster a number of times late in the year, but also was a sure-handed option in a limited role for Tom Brady. His history of concussions and knee problems remains a concern and a guy coming off a six-catch season won't garner much interest on the market. He's more an emergency-list option for any team, including the Patriots, at this point.

--T Will Svitek joined the Patriots as a veteran backup last offseason and saw action at both guard and tackle in training camp. He started two games as a fill-in at right tackle during the regular season, but seemed to be rather low on the team's depth chart of backups as the year wore on. Does seem likely for a return as a guy with plenty of starting experience who may find other options.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: none.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--LS Danny Aiken: Potential RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--WR Julian Edelman: UFA; $17M/4 yrs, $8M guaranteed.

--TE Michael Hoomanawanui: Potential UFA; 2 yr, terms unknown.

--C Ryan Wendell: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--CB Brandon Browner: UFA Seahawks; $15.15M/3 yrs, $1M guaranteed.

--S Patrick Chung: FA Eagles; terms unknown.

--WR Brandon LaFell: UFA Panthers; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB Darrelle Revis: FA Buccaneers; $32M/2 yrs, $10M SB/$12M RB 2015.

PLAYERS LOST

--RB LeGarrette Blount: UFA Steelers; $3.85M/2 yrs, $950,000 SB.

--LB Dane Fletcher: UFA Buccaneers; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--S Steve Gregory (released).

--TE Matthew Mulligan: UFA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--NT Isaac Sopoaga (released).

--LB Brandon Spikes: UFA Bills; $3M/1 yr, $900,000 SB.

--CB Aqib Talib: UFA Broncos; $57M/6 yrs, $5M SB/$26M guaranteed.

--S Adrian Wilson (released).

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