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Pats announce five signings

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff March 16, 2009 06:10 PM

The Patriots had a couple of transactions today, but so far none of them involved Carolina Panthers pass rusher Julius Peppers. The team announced today that it had signed five players, including free agent offensive lineman Al Johnson.

The Patriots also made official the re-signing of nose tackle/defensive end Mike Wright, who received a four-year deal for about $7.5 million with playing time escalators that could increase the value of the deal by about $10 million, and announced that they had also re-signed offensive lineman Wesley Britt and safeties Ray Ventrone and Tank Williams.

The 30-year-old Johnson is a veteran of six NFL seasons with the Cowboys, Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. He suffered a knee injury with the Cardinals last year during training camp and was placed on injured reserve. However, he was released from injured reserve on Oct. 21 and signed by the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 29. He played in four games for Miami, seeing action at both center and guard.

Johnson, who spent his first four NFL seasons in Dallas, signed with Arizona in 2007 as a free agent and started all 14 games he played in that season at center for the Cardinals. A 2003 second-round pick of the Cowboys out of Wisconsin, Johnson has 45 career starts at center in 66 career NFL contests.

The Patriots decided to re-sign Williams after he missed all of last season with a knee injury he suffered in the second quarter of the Patriots first preseason game back on Aug. 7. Up until that time the team had been experimenting with Williams, who signed with the team as a free agent in March of 2008, as a linebacker in some of their sub packages that featured multiple defensive backs.

Williams, 28, has spent seven NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2002-05), Minnesota Vikings (2006-07) and Patriots (2008). The 6-foot-2 , 223-pound safety has played in 70 career games, recording 303 career tackles (232 solo), 4.5 sacks, and 5 interceptions.

Wright, 27, has played in 54 games with seven starts for the Patriots, emerging as a valuable and versatile member of the defensive line since being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Cincinnati following the 2005 draft.

Britt, 27, has played in 16 career games with two starts with the Patriots since joining the team as a free agent in 2006.

Ventrone, 26, was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent April 28, 2005, out of Villanova. He played in 15 games last year, mostly on special teams.

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19 comments so far...
  1. Good move bringing Tank back--that's potentially some nice depth at safety, as well as someone that can play up from a DB position and take on TEs.

    Posted by Ghost of Lombardi March 16, 09 08:05 PM
  1. This is all GREAT news, But I have only one question: Where's the deal with Vince Wilfork? All of these deals will be for naught if Wilfork walks, or if we piss him off with the franchise tag and go through the whole Asante thing over again.
    Sorry to rain on this wonderful parade, but Wilfork will be a Jet or a Brown, or Chief, or a Bronco, or a Dolphin before you have time to say best nose tackle in the league.

    Posted by Mardak March 16, 09 09:00 PM
  1. hey, what's up with rodney harrison ??, any news about him...retiring comin back cut ....

    Posted by Jorge E. March 16, 09 09:28 PM
  1. Sources are saying the Patriots will 3 comp picks. Round #,3,5,6. This gives them 11 picks.

    Posted by george lindsey March 16, 09 09:44 PM
  1. If we happen to get Mr. Peppers, I would mark this down as a great acquisition year.
    Cassel is at best a mid level starter, with Brady OK, (hopefully) we have shored up every position, plus are all set if Maroney cannot get it done (see Fred Taylor)

    Posted by Peter Benttinen March 16, 09 09:48 PM
  1. In Bill we trust Mardak... In Bill we trust.

    Posted by Pat Patriot March 16, 09 09:49 PM
  1. If we sign Peppers both Wilfork and Seymore will be gone after this year. That said, we will win Super Bowl #4 and with Brady in his prime I say strike while the irons hot. Also if Wilfork bolts after this year Mayo will be ready to move into the middle of a 4-3 defence, it's all good in Patriot Nation. Sign Peppers.

    Posted by CanPatsfan March 16, 09 09:56 PM
  1. I expect that they will redo a few deals like Seymour and Brady, cut someone like Green or even Faulk and then try to sign Vince. Hey, he's gotta ask himself if he wants to win or max the $$$. I think Taylor would be a better fit for their cap and they can pick up an outside pass rusher in the draft to develop.

    Posted by rob March 16, 09 10:59 PM
  1. I think that Tank Williams is great news. I'd love to see what Belichick could do with a potential Julius Peppers acquisition and whoever else is on the defense next year.

    We never really got to see the new 3-3-1-4 defense they were trying last preseason.

    Posted by Nick C. March 16, 09 11:26 PM
  1. Who the hell cares about a nose tackle? If he doesnt play ball with us we franchise him. If he wants to go to a bunch of loser teams like the Jets, Browns, Chiefs, Bronco's, or Dolphins then I say dont let the door hit you on the way out.

    Posted by rickb101 March 17, 09 06:34 AM
  1. I thought there were freeing up all this cap space to sign wilfork and mankins long term ?

    Both of those players need to be re-signed ASAP. They both only have one year left and are pro - bowl players.

    I would like to see them re-structure Seymour's deal because he makes a lot of cash and send some Wilfork and Mankins way.

    Posted by Blair from Canada March 17, 09 08:55 AM
  1. geeeeeeeez - Everybody needs to stop sweating about Wilfork...
    There's no-way BB & Kraft are letting the Patriots lose him. Just because you aren't hearing about it, doesn't mean his re-signing is being ignored.

    I wouldn't be surpried if a deal is already DONE & word doesn't come-out until after the draft. Could just be a little tid-bit to help mess-up other teams possible pick/trade stradegies...look at Denver's mess already, just from the Casell shenanigans - LOL

    I'm not saying BB or Patriots had an intensional hand in it, but regardless - driving a wedge between Cutler & McDaniels definately made NE a better team, just by AFC Default

    you never can tell what Bill has up his sleeve, but you can be absolutely certain that one of them is having Vince anchoring the line.

    Posted by stop Newport, RI corruption March 17, 09 10:21 AM
  1. I'm hoping Tank's injury & surgery last August means he's fully recovered for this training camp. Very intrigued at the tactical possibilities he provides as big safety, ala Harrison circa 2003 & 4. Can't wait to see this younger/faster/bigger/more aggressive defense.

    Wilfork is on record saying "every day without an extension my price tag goes up". I hope that attitude isn't interfering with contract talks. 3-4 NT's of his caliber are rare, and as Mardak points out, there are more 3-4 teams now then in previous years.

    Posted by mikeinNH March 17, 09 10:23 AM
  1. Wilfork and Seymour are still under contract for at least 1 more year. If they weren't, they'd free agents by now.

    Posted by westislander March 17, 09 10:24 AM
  1. How about Wilfork? Depth is our bread and butter, but it would be great if we can retain the best D lineman in football

    Posted by Mike March 17, 09 10:31 AM
  1. Hey Mardack, relax. If BB thinks Wilfork is a key, it will be taken care of. If not we'll reload as we always do.

    Posted by Bob March 17, 09 11:00 AM
  1. it was a shame we didn't get to see Tank last season. I think he could have really made a difference. I look forward to seeing how he can contribute this year. I predict the Pats will draft a D lineman and a cornerback early on.

    Posted by Carl Parisien Natick MA March 17, 09 11:32 AM
  1. We could always move up and get b.j. raji,he might be a good 3-4 nose tackle.Or we could draft Ron Brace in the 2nd. Just thoughts.

    Posted by Todd March 17, 09 04:58 PM
  1. Good signings for Springs and Bodden, but I'm getting tired of the ignorant comments about the pats secondary being the problem last year. It was more the pass rush. Watching Seymour, Wilfork, and Warren consistently get stood up and stopped cold(giving the opposing QB 6 - 10 seconds in the pocket) was the reason our d-backs got beat like a drum. It's hard to cover when after five seconds your d-line is still dancing the waltz with their blockers...and we saw a LOT of that last year! Peppers is too expensive. I'm interested in seeing what Crable can do. He was the only one who got to the QB during preseason last year

    Posted by jaxpatriot March 18, 09 10:48 PM
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