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Free Agent Snapshot: Billy Yates

06.01.11 at 12:08 am ET

Despite the labor uncertainty, will present a list of 10 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency (under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement) this offseason. Click here to view the list of players we’€™ve profiled as part of this feature so far.

Billy Yates
Position: Center/guard
Age: 30
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 305 pounds

This wouldn’€™t be a high profile signing, but the return of Yates would provide some depth along a New England offensive line that’€™s in something of a state of flux, especially along the interior. A Texas A&M product, Yates is a veteran who spent five seasons with the Patriots from 2004-2008, and was so highly through of when he was in New England that even though he was on the practice squad for the bulk of the 2006 season, he was paid the full $425,000 he would have earned on the active roster.

The Patriots figure to lean on Dan Connolly as a replacement for the recently retired Stephen Neal at right guard, but if Connolly slips, Yates’€™ history suggests he’€™d be able to fill the position ‘€” he stepped in on several occasions in 2006 and 2008 when Neal was sidelined by injury.

With his age and recent injury history, he wouldn’€™t be a long-term investment, but if the Patriots believe some of their interior linemen are still a year or two away, Yates would be an excellent stopgap signing: He has positional versatility, a knowledge of the New England system, is an unrestricted free agent and would come cheap.

Why it might not work: His age and his injury history ‘€” he suffered a torn biceps last November that prematurely ended his season ‘€” could serve as roadblocks in Yates’€™ possible return to the Patriots. In addition, if the Patriots like where their younger interior linemen are (Ryan Wendell, Rich Ohrnberger, Marcus Cannon), then they’€™d probably let the likeable Yates sign elsewhere.

Read More: Billy Yates, Dan Connolly, free agent snapshot, Marcus Cannon



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