The Patriots have succeeded in locking up one of their core group of players to a long-term contract, signing offensive tackle Matt Light to a six-year contract extension. According to published reports, the two sides reached an agreement worth $27 million and includes total bonus money of $9 million.
The deal will keep Light, 26, with the Patriots through the 2010 season.
"Very excited," Light said when asked how he felt. "I don't want to talk about too much of it, just because obviously we have something more important this weekend coming up. But I'm very excited to be here, very excited to have the opportunity to play with these guys for a long time, until 2010."
Light, the Patriots second-round pick in 2001, was earning $455,000 in the final year of his rookie contract and was eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring. In similar fashion to signing linebacker Tedy Bruschi to a new deal during the offseason, the Patriots locked up Light before he could test the free agent market.
"We're happy it's done," Head coach Bill Belichick offered up.
]()Light has been a constant along an offensive line that has been in flux in recent seasons. Selected as the 48th player overall out of Purdue, the fourth-year player started 12 games as a rookie and has now started 44 consecutive games for the Patriots at left tackle dating back to the 2001 season. Light, who missed early portions of training camp this season following an offseason appendectomy, has started 53 of his 55 career games.
One player happy to see Light remain with the Patriots on a long-term basis is quarterback Tom Brady. Light, who protects Brady's blindside, has been a part of the lines that did not allow a sack throughout the 2003 playoffs and that has surrendered just 63 sacks over the last two seasons.
"It's great," Brady said. "He certainly deserves it. He's a tough player. In my position, you always want to know that your backside is protected. There's nobody else I'd rather have over there. He's a great player."
In regards to passing up a shot at free agency and potentially a more lucrative payout, Light expressed his desire to get a deal done now and remain with the Patriots.
"When they came to me and wanted to get a deal done, I felt good about that for one main reason: I knew they had confidence in me. That goes a [long way]. When you let your players know that have deals coming up that you want them to stay here, and it's important to the team that you be a part of it, that sends a great message to us as players. I'm very grateful for that. You want to play for a team like that."