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Patriots announce signing of TE Michael Hoomanawanui

03.12.14 at 1:24 pm ET
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The Patriots on Wednesday made official the signing of tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who had been an unrestricted free agent.

The team did not announce terms of the deal, although it was reported earlier in the week that it was for two years.

Hoomanawanui, 25, has played four seasons in the NFL, including the last two in New England after being picked up as a free agent in 2012.

A fifth-round draft pick of the Rams out of Illinois in 2010, Hoomanawanui is known primarily as a blocking tight end. He has 37 catches for 474 yards and four touchdowns in 43 career games. Last season he played 13 games and had 12 receptions for 136 yards and one TD. He caught three passes for 39 yards in the Patriots’ two playoff games.

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Patriots reportedly set to meet with Matt Shaughnessy, Shelley Smith

03.12.14 at 12:57 pm ET
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In addition to the news that the Patriots have met with free agent wide receiver Brandon LaFell, word has come out Wednesday morning that New England has free agent visits lined up with outside linebacker/defensive lineman Matt Shaughnessy and offensive lineman Shelley Smith.

Shaughnessy is a 6-foot-5, 285-pounder who has been in the league for five seasons — four with the Raiders (2009-12) and one with the Cardinals. The 27-year-old has 18.5 career sacks, with his best year coming in 2010 when he had seven with Oakland. (He also had a career-high 43 tackles that year, as well as one pass defensed.) Field Yates of ESPN first reported the move.

In addition, the Patriots are meeting with the 26-year-old Smith, a sixth-round pick of the Texans in 2010 who has played with the Rams the last two years. According to the analytical site Pro Football Focus, the 6-foot-4, 312-pounder is known more as a run blocker (+12.3) than pass blocker (-6.0). He could play right guard if the Patriots are forced to do some shuffling, particularly if center Ryan Wendell leaves in free agency. (In that scenario, Smith would become the right guard while Dan Connolly would slide over to center.) Tom E. Curran of Comcast Sports Net first reported the news.

Read More: Brandon LaFell, Matt Shaughnessy, Shelley Smith,

Resetting latest on Patriots and their own free agents

03.12.14 at 10:44 am ET
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After nearly 24 hours of free agency, here’s a look at the Patriots and the latest involving their own free agents:

Long snapper Danny Aiken: Signed a one-year deal to return to New England.
Running back LeGarrette Blount: No updates.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Carter has left the door open for a possible return — he expanded on his feelings in a recent interview with ESPN.
Wide receiver Austin Collie: No updates.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman: The slot receiver couldn’t reach an accord with the team on a reported three-year deal, and he’ll test the market. One report says he has a visit set up with the Ravens.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: Reportedly took a free agent visit to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Signed a two-year deal to return to New England.
Tight end Matthew Mulligan: No updates at this time, but a league source has expressed to some optimism the Maine product could return to the Patriots in 2014.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: Spikes tweeted what was fundamentally a farewell note to New England on Tuesday. It’s expected he’ll draw interest as a free agent from several teams, including the Bills and Texans.
Offensive lineman Will Svitek: No updates, but like Mulligan, league sources expressed a belief that the Patriots would welcome him back at a fair market rate.
Cornerback Aqib Talib: Late Tuesday night, Talib and the Broncos reportedly agreed on a six-year, $57 million deal that includes $26 million in guaranteed money.
Center Ryan Wendell: No updates. However, it was interesting to see the news that the Patriots hosted veteran center Phil Costa on a free agent visit.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Andre Carter, Aqib Talib, austin collie

Report: Panthers free agent WR Brandon LaFell pays visit to Patriots

03.12.14 at 9:43 am ET
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Wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who has spent his first four NFL seasons with the Panthers, is visiting with the Patriots Wednesday after hitting free agency, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

LaFell, 27, had 49 receptions for 627 yards and five touchdowns while playing all 16 games in 2013. A year earlier, he appeared in 14 games, making 44 catches for 677 yards and four touchdowns. In four seasons, he has 167 catches for 2,385 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s also rushed six times for 110 yards.

LaFell, who stands 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, was drafted in the third round out of LSU in 2010.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Brandon LaFell,

Could Aqib Talib’s departure set stage for Patriots’ pursuit of Darrelle Revis?

03.12.14 at 1:32 am ET
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The departure of Aqib Talib for Denver — and a six-year, $57 million deal that includes $26 million in guaranteed money — leaves a hole in the Patriots secondary.

As it relates to the offseason, Talib’s decision changes the landscape for New England, namely when it comes to the possibility of Darrelle Revis in Foxboro. While the acquisition of Revis was a fantasy football-style pipe dream beforehand (just move some money around and voila!), now with Talib leaving for Denver, there’s the genuine possibility that the Patriots could acquire Revis.

The veteran corner, who apparently will be cut (or traded) by the Buccaneers on Wednesday, could be had for a little as a fifth-round pick, according to Jason LaCanfora, who tweeted Tuesday night that Revis wants to be in New England. A three-time first-team All-Pro who will turn 29 before the start of the 2014 season, the 6-foot, 205-pounder has established a well-earned reputation as one of the best defensive backs in the recent history of the game. He has 21 career picks in seven years in the league, and the only reason that number isn’t higher is because quarterbacks have almost stopped throwing in his direction entirely. According to the analytical site Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks threw in his direction just 63 times last year, the second-fewest pass attempts against any cornerback who had at least 800 snaps last year (he trailed only Seattle’s Richard Sherman).

“He covers big guys, small guys. He’€™s quick, he’€™s fast, he’€™s patient, he’€™s strong,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said of Revis prior to the Patriots-Bucs game last September. “He doesn’t have any weaknesses. I don’t think I’ve completed many balls on his side of the field very often. He’s not a guy that you want to test and see how well you’re going to do. He’€™s just a great all-around player.”

No one is debating the greatness of Revis, but it’s a double-edged sword when you talk about his current situation: If the Patriots decide to push their chips to the middle of the table and swing a deal for the defensive back, they’d be taking on a massive contract the likes of which they’ve rarely dealt with, as well as a player who has a history of holdouts. (For what it’s worth, the Patriots have never paid a cornerback more than $10 million annually. I know the financial landscape has changed over the years with the fluctuating cap numbers, but that’s a sizable milestone to consider when talking about a possible pickup of Revis.)

And if they wait out the process and try to pick him up if he’s cut, they almost certainly would be bidding against a series of teams like the Raiders and Browns who have a lot more cap space than New England has at this point.

If one was to read between the lines, if the Patriots would be interested in making a play for Revis, it would mean they would have to give themselves some financial flexibility. If you start to see names like Isaac Sopoaga hit the waiver wire on Wednesday, that would be a pretty fair indication that New England is doing whatever it can to create some cap room to accommodate the veteran corner.

It is worth mentioning that the Patriots do have some other options in free agency. Both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who recently ended talks with the Broncos) and Antonio Cromartie are on the market, as well as Charles “Peanut” Tillman and Walter Thurmond. (However, Jacksonville is considered the favorite to land Thurmond at this point, as former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is the head coach there.) In addition, this draft class is considered excellent when it comes to cornerbacks, with as many as five potential first- or second-rounders this year in Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State), Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State), Jason Verrett (TCU), Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech) and Bradley Roby (Ohio State).

But ultimately, none of those names would bring the same sort of star power to Foxboro. History tells us that it would be rare, but if the Patriots want to break with tradition go all in on a marquee cornerback, they could have their best chance to do it Wednesday.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, antonio cromartie, Aqib Talib, Charles "Peanut" Tillman

Report: Aqib Talib signs with Broncos

03.11.14 at 11:28 pm ET
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Cornerback Aqib Talib has reached an agreement with the Broncos on a six-year contract for $57 million that includes $26 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Talib, who spent the last year-plus with the Patriots, was considered one of the best corners on the free-agent market. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, who was acquired by New England at the trade deadline in 2012, had five picks in two seasons with the Patriots, and emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in recent franchise history.

Talib, who turned 28 last month, will now become teammates in Denver with Wes Welker, who collided with the corner in the AFC title game, knocking him out of the contest and sidelining the defensive back for the rest of the afternoon.

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Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Aqib Talib,

LB Dane Fletcher reportedly will make free agent visit to Buccaneers

03.11.14 at 4:44 pm ET
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Linebacker Dane Fletcher will take a free agent visit with Tampa Bay Tuesday, according to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Fletcher is an undrafted free agent who was picked up out of Montana State in 2010, and has spent three seasons with the Patriots as a backup linebacker and special teamer. (He sat out the entire 2012 season because of a knee injury he suffered in the preseason.) His best season came in 2011 when he finished with 32 tackles in 10 games, five of them starts.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Dane Fletcher,
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