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Newcomers familiar with success

In addition to improving the team's overall depth and competition at several positions, the free agents brought in by New England thus far bring another key element: playoff experience.

All 11 players signed by the Patriots since the season ended have been on postseason teams. Those players have a combined 35 games of playoff experience, nearly half the total of the rest of the team. Not including the newcomers, New England has just 19 players who have been a part of 80 playoff games.

Several of the players have significant performances on the postseason stage. Linebacker Mike Vrabel killed the Patriots in 1997 when he forced and recovered a Drew Bledsoe fumble for Pittsburgh to preserve a 7-6 Steeler victory. David Patten had five receptions for 86 yards for the New York Giants in a wild card loss to Minnesota in 1997. Bert Emanuel produced six catches for 62 yards for Atlanta in 1995, and then had three catches for 69 yards in two games for Tampa Bay's 1999 postseason run.

One thing none of the newcomers have done is reach the Super Bowl. Marc Edwards (San Francisco, 1997), Anthony Pleasant (New York Jets, 1998), Vrabel (Pittsburgh, 1997) and Emanuel (Tampa Bay, 1999) have all reached the conference championship game, but the big game has eluded each.

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