|Pats and Brace finalize deal||07.17.09 at 9:23 am ET|
WEEI.com learned moments ago that the Patriots and second-round pick Ron Brace have come to terms on a four-year deal that includes roughly $2.82 million in guaranteed money.
Brace’s agent Nate Haber made the announcement this morning via his Twitter page:
“Brace and the Patriots have agreed to terms on a 4 year deal, with roughly $2.82 million in guarantees.”
Brace, a defensive tackle out of Boston College, was the 40th player taken in the 2009 draft. New England now has eight of its 12 draft picks signed — Brace joins Darius Butler, Seabastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, Rich Ohrnberger, Myron Pryor, Darryl Richard and Julian Edelman in the fold. With rookies set to report for training camp on July 26, only four players remain without deals: Patrick Chung, Tyrone McKenzie, George Bussey and Jake Ingram. However, sources continue to indicate to WEEI.com that at least two of those four players are close to deals, and could agree to contracts within the next couple of days.
At 6-foot-3 and 330 pounds, Brace is a native of Springfield who starred as a high schooler at Worcester Burncoat. At Boston College, he lined up alongside defensive lineman B.J. Raji (a first-round pick of the Packers), and was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2008 after earning honorable mention in 2007. In his last two seasons at The Heights, Brace combined for 54 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks
With the uncertainty surrounding the future of Pro Bowl nose tackle Vince Wilfork — he is entering the final year of a six-year contract — Brace could be seen a possible replacement for Wilfork down the road. He has shown some positional versatility in the past, with an ability to play defensive tackle in the 4-3 or nose in the 3-4.
The Patriots certainly seem him as a space-eater.
“He’s huge. This guy’s big. He’s big and he’s wide,” said Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio in the spring when he was asked about Brace. “It’s hard to find these kinds of guys.”
“[Ron] Brace is a bigger player, very powerful and explosive, [with a] different playing style,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked to compare Brace to the other two defensive linemen New England selected this past April, Darryl Richard and Myron Pryor.
“[He’s] a little bit taller, so I think there is some degree of flexibility between playing on the center, playing on the guard, and playing between the tackle and the guard, or on the tackle in varying degrees with all three players. How that actually manifests itself, we’ll see.”
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