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Patriots sign Colvin, add youth to defense

With one signing the New England defense became much younger and more athletic Tuesday afternoon, as the Patriots reached an agreement with free agent linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. The former Bear visited Gillette Stadium on Sunday and the two sides have been working since that time hammering out a deal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 6-3, 245-pounder started 15-of-16 games played for the Bears last season and finished the year with 72 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He also had 3 forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 5 passes defensed.

Just after the signing was announced, Colvin seemed to be both excited that the free agent journey was over and relieved that he had settled on a new home.

"This process has been very extensive and tiresome," Colvin said on a conference call via cell phone from T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island. "My thoughts in the last couple of days have circled so many different ways. I just made up my gut instinct and just felt like the Patriots was the best place for me.

"I just felt like it was the best fit for me. Obviously they have been winning for a while. Coach Belichick and his staff have developed a scheme that they feel is good, a system. I was impressed by everything, not only just the stadium, but the staff, the front office and everyone came across real well."

In just four seasons in the NFL the former fourth-round selection out of Purdue has developed quite a positive reputation as a pass rusher, especially over the last two seasons. In November, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick showered Colvin with a great deal of praise during the week leading up to the Patriots game in Chicago.

Colvin would appear to be a good fit for a New England defense that not only needed an injection of youth but also requires a certain degree of versatility to play. The young, athletic, pass-rushing linebacker could play in either the 3-4 or 4-3, adding versatility to a group that already includes the unique talents of Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel.

"I have been in Chicago for four years playing in a defense that is pretty good and I just feel like I can bring something to the table that some linebackers don't have," Colvin said. "[The Patriots] have plenty of talent on defense, don't get me wrong. I am not the answer to any questions that they have. I am just a piece of the puzzle. Obviously they have been to the Super Bowl and they have won it. They have a thirst for getting back there and I have the thirst of getting there for the first time. I am just looking to come in, contribute and do my part just like every other player on the team."

With a total of 21 sacks over the last two seasons, the 25-year-old Colvin had received significant interest on the free agent market and reportedly made visits to Detroit, Arizona, Houston and the Giants prior to his stop in New England.

The linebacker was also quick to clear up the circumstances surrounding left-shoulder surgery that he had in early January. There was some speculation that the surgery would hurt Colvin's status in the free agent market, but based on the number of teams that expressed interest it was a minor detail.

"The shoulder is doing real good," Colvin said. "Everything should be fine and it should make me a better player by getting it stabilized. It was stabilization. I have been playing with [the problem] for four years. It happened in college. It wasn't anything major. It was just something that we felt like it was time to go ahead and take care of going through the process that we were getting ready to go through."

Healthy and ready to go, Colvin is easily the biggest new free agent signing the Patriots have made under the current coaching and scouting staff. It will be months before Colvin gets to show his stuff on the football field and validate his signing, but in the end the player says he is just ready to go in a place where he felt most comfortable.

"I just felt like I made the best decision for myself by coming here to New England," Colvin said. "The attitude was definitely right and the direction they are going in is positive. The front office is invested in winning and honestly I want to be a part of this."

Colvin's career totals include 56 games played, 36 starts, 210 tackles, 26 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 8 passes defensed.

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