FOXBOROUGH (AP) — The New England Patriots were busy yesterday, officially signing three players to contracts.
Two of the players — former Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Tommy Kelly and returning Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman — figure to be with the Patriots in training camp. Another — restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders — signed an offer sheet, meaning his former team, the Steelers, have five days to match the offer to retain the player’s services.
Kelly, who started all 80 games for the Raiders during the past five seasons, was released on March 27.
Since joining the Raiders as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State in 2004, he has started 117 of the 129 games in which he’s played and has 34 sacks, one interception, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 419 tackles.
He had 45 tackles last season with one sack and one fumble recovery.
Edelman signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract later yesterday. When Edelman visited the New York Giants last week, the immediate reaction was that he simply was gauging his market before returning to a Patriots team that values him more than any other franchise in the NFL.
The offensive coaching staff thought highly enough of Edelman’s run-after-catch ability coming out of training camp last season that he was playing ahead of Wes Welker until a Week 3 hand injury sent him to the sidelines.
If Edelman is going to land a more lucrative long-term contract outside of New England, he’s going to have to prove he can stay healthy in 2013.
The Steelers have until Monday to match a one-year, $2.5 million offer. If they don’t, the Patriots’ overhauled wide receiver depth chart will read: Danny Amendola, Sanders, Donald Jones, Edelman and Michael Jenkins. Although a high-end speedster is missing, the common thread with all five receivers is they have the ability to play outside as well as inside.