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Don Davis becomes the first Pats free agent to return

The Patriots entered this offseason with 17 of their players eligible to be unrestricted free agents on March 3. That number is now down to 16 as the team re-signed special teams ace Don Davis.

According to The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss, Davis - who led the Patriots in special teams tackles this season with 25 - signed a one-year deal that will pay him $795,000 and includes a signing bonus of $25,000. The way the contract is set up means Davis will only count $485,000 against the Patriots salary cap in 2006.

"Being an older player and knowing my role with the team, it was pretty straightforward," Davis said. "There really wasn't a lot of negotiation involved with it."

At 33-years old, it wasn't certain if the Patriots would re-sign the veteran but Davis isn't only an asset on special teams, he's a spiritual and emotional leader off the field as well. Davis often coordinates bible study groups and other activities for his teammates and is known as someone who helps the Patriots younger players get adjusted to the NFL.

In 2004, Davis received the Ernie Tavila Award given by the Athletes in Action organization. The award is given annually to a professional athlete who displays exemplary values on and off the field. The award was not only an honor for Davis but it also shows that Davis does a lot more for the Patriots than just make tackles on special teams.

Davis is going into his eleventh season in the NFL. He entered the league in 1995 as an undrafted free agent with the Jets and also played for the Saints, Buccaneers and Rams before coming to New England. In addition to being a standout on special teams, Davis also serves as a backup linebacker and has played safety for the team in emergency situations.

Davis becomes the first of many important Patriot free agents the team will need to make a decision on before March. David Givens, Adam Vinatieri, Stephen Neal, Tom Ashworth and Troy Brown are some other key players that will hit the open market if the team doesn't re-sign them before the free agency period begins.

Notes
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is taking part in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament. Brady will be teamed with pro golferFrank Lickliter and will participate in a foursome with his father – Tom Brady, Sr. – and Rocco Mediate. The foursome teed off Thursday morning at Poppy Hills. Former NFL stars Emmitt Smith and Harris Barton are also taking part in the event.

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