FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced today that they have acquired DL Akiem Hicks from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for TE Michael Hoomanawanui. The Patriots also signed DL Khyri Thornton from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.
In addition, the Patriots signed DB Brandon Dixon, OL Sean Hickey, WR Austin Hill and LB Eric Martin to the practice squad.
Hicks, 25, originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick (89th overall) by New Orleans out of the University of Regina in the 2012 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 324 pounder, has appeared in 48 games with 33 starts in three-plus seasons with the Saints and registered 119 tackles, 6½ sacks, one pass defensed and one forced fumble. He started all three games for New Orleans this season and made two tackles.
Thornton, 25, was claimed off waivers by the Patriots from Green Bay on Sept. 6, 2015. He was inactive for the season opener vs. Pittsburgh and was released on Sept. 17, 2015. He was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 19. Thornton originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick (85th overall) by Green Bay in 2014 out of Southern Mississippi. The 6-foot-3, 315-pounder, suffered an injury in the 2014 preseason finale and spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve. He was released by Green Bay on Sept. 5, 2015.
Hoomanawanui, 27, is in his sixth NFL season after entering the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (132nd overall) by St. Louis out of Illinois in the 2010 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder, played his first two seasons in St. Louis before being released by the Rams prior to the start of the 2012 regular season. He was signed by New England as a free agent on Sept. 5, 2012. Through his first five NFL seasons, Hoomanawanui has appeared in 61 games with 39 starts and totaled 40 receptions for 518 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, he played in all 16 regular season games with 12 starts and caught three passes for 44 yards. Hoomanawanui played in two games this season but did not accrue any statistics.
Martin made the Patriots 53-man roster out of training camp and saw action in the season-opener vs. Pittsburgh before being released. He spent one week on the practice squad before being released.
Dixon, 25, originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (195th overall) of the New York Jets out of Missouri State in 2014. The 5-11, 203-pounder, was released by the Jets out of training camp and began his rookie season on the Tampa Bay practice squad. He was signed to the 53-man roster on Sept. 6 and played in 14 games and finished with eight tackles. Dixon was released by Tampa Bay on Sept. 4, 2015 and spent time on the practice squads of Seattle and Indianapolis.
Hickey, 24, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with New Orleans out of Syracuse on May 4, 2015. The 6-foot-6, 306-pounder, was released by the Saints at the end of training camp and spent one week on the Saints' practice squad before being released.
Hill, 24, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Oakland Raiders on May 5, 2015 out of Arizona. The 6-foot-3, 212-pounder, was released by the Raiders on May 27 and was signed by the New York Jets on July 28. He was released by the Jets on Aug. 30.