Since losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game a few days ago, New England has wasted little time getting a jump on the 2013 season. Several players have, according to multiple media reports, been signed to futures contracts (contracts that don't take effect until the new league year begins in early March).
The most notable of these is Armond Armstead, a 6-5, 300-pound interior defensive lineman. The 22-year-old University of Southern California product spent the past season with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, with whom he won a Grey Cup title in November and was named an All-Star.
Armstead played for the Trojans from 2008-10, but was declared medically ineligible to play in '11 after a brief hospital stay. He sued the school, claiming he suffered a heart attack as a result of the painkiller Toradol, which he said was improperly administered by team doctors.
Likely because of his health concerns, Armstead was not drafted by the NFL last April. Had it not been for those, he may have been considered a high-profile pick last year. It will be interesting to see if he can make any in-roads with the Patriots if he remains on the roster for spring practices.
Defensive end Marcus Benard, late of the Cleveland Browns, and QB Mike Kafka, who spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, also are reported to have joined the Patriots recently. In addition, New England reportedly inked futures contracts this week with five players who spent time on the team's practice squad this past season: fullback James Develin, wide receivers Jeremy Ebert and Andre Holmes, defensive tackle Tracy Robertson, and linebacker Jeff Tarpinian.