FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots have re-signed linebacker Eric Alexander, punter Chris Hanson and safety James Sanders. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed. Additionally, the Patriots have released first-year linebacker Darrell Robertson.
Eric Alexander, 27, has played in 31 games for the Patriots since being signed as a rookie free agent out of Louisiana State prior to the 2004 season. The 6-foot-2-inch, 240-pound linebacker has also appeared in six career playoff games for the Patriots, with one start at middle linebacker. He has recorded eight career tackles (7 solo) and 26 special teams tackles.
Alexander was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on April 29, 2004. He spent the majority of the 2004 and 2005 campaigns on the Patriots practice squad. In 2006, his first full season on the active roster, he appeared in 14 games and recorded 10 special teams tackles. He appeared in all three 2006 playoff games, and made his first career start as a middle linebacker in the AFC Championship Game, leading the team with 10 solo tackles in that contest. In 2007, Alexander appeared in 12 games and recorded a career-high 14 special teams tackles. He added a team-high eight special teams tackles in three 2007 playoff games. Last season, Alexander appeared in one game and was inactive for nine games before being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury on Nov. 22.
Chris Hanson, 32, is entering his 11th NFL season and has spent the last two seasons with the Patriots (2007-08) after spending six seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2002-06). The 6-foot-2-inch, 202-pound punter has played in 118 career games while recording 521 punts for 22,311 yards (42.8 avg.), 65 touchbacks and 168 punts inside the 20-yard line. Hanson has handled the punting duties for the Patriots for each of the last two seasons. In 2007, he punted 44 times for 1,821 yards (41.4 avg.), with six touchbacks and 13 punts inside the 20-yard line. Last season, he punted 49 times for 2,143 yards (43.7 avg.) with nine touchbacks and 19 punts inside the 20-yard line. His 43.7-yard average for the Patriots in 2008 was the second highest of Hanson's career (44.2, 2002) and tied the fifth-highest single-season punting average in Patriots history. He was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in the final week of the 2008 regular season. In that game - a 13-0 Patriots victory over the Bills - Hanson averaged 45 yards per punt despite extremely windy conditions.
Hanson averaged 39.9 yards per punt at Marshall before making his NFL debut in 1999 when he appeared in one game with the Green Bay Packers. He signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2000, but did not appear in a game. The following season, he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played for the next six seasons (2002-06). He set statistical career highs in 2002, when he was named to the Pro Bowl and averaged 44.2 yards per punt with a 37.6-yard net average. In 2005, he set a Jaguars record with 33 punts inside the 20-yard line and was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September 2005. Hanson signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2007 and appeared in each of their preseason games that year before being released by New Orleans and signed by the Patriots on Aug. 30, 2007.
James Sanders, 25, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round (133rd overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Fresno State. The 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound safety has played in 55 games with 36 starts over four seasons in New England (2005-08). Sanders has totaled 198 tackles (144 solo), one sack, five interceptions for 112 yards and a touchdown, 10 passes defensed, one forced fumble and 21 special teams tackles. In 2008, Sanders started all 14 games in which he played and recorded 66 tackles, a total that ranked second among Patriots defensive backs and ranked sixth on the team. Additionally, Sanders recorded an interception, three passes defensed and four special teams tackles last season.
As a rookie in 2005, Sanders played in 10 games with two starts, made 14 tackles and had an interception, which he returned 39 yards for a touchdown at Buffalo on Dec. 11. In 2006, Sanders played in every regular-season game with five starts and also started all three of New England's playoff games in place of an injured Rodney Harrison. In the 2006 playoffs, his 17 tackles ranked third on the team and led all New England defensive backs. In 2007, Sanders started 15 regular-season games and had a career-high 73 tackles (60 solo) and a career-best two interceptions. His 73 tackles led all Patriots defensive backs in 2007. He started all three of New England's playoff games in 2007 and made 15 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Darrell Robertson, 22, was a member of the Patriots practice squad from Nov. 17, 2008 through the end of the 2008 season. He was signed to a future contract on Dec. 30, 2008. Robertson was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie free agent following the 2008 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4-inch, 246-pound linebacker was released by the Cowboys on Aug. 30, 2008. He was signed by the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League on Sept. 9, 2008 and played in two games for Edmonton, recording six tackles before being released on Sept. 29.