FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced the re-signing of offensive lineman Dan Connolly and the signings of unrestricted free agents DE Jonathan Fanene (pronounced - fuh-NAY-NAY), TE Daniel Fells and WR Brandon Lloyd. Terms of the contracts were not announced.
In addition, the Patriots released LB Christian Cox.
Connolly, 29, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons with Jacksonville (2005-06) and New England (2007-11). During his time with the Patriots he has started at both guard positions and at center. After spending the majority of his first two seasons in 2007 and 2008 on the New England practice squad, Connolly has started in 28 games in the last three seasons.
Last season, Connolly played in 13 games with 11 starts at center. He also started at center in all three postseason games, including Super Bowl XLVI.
The 6-4, 313-pounder originally joined the NFL as a rookie free agent with Jacksonville in 2005 out of Southeast Missouri State. He made the 53-man roster of Jacksonville as a rookie and played in the final four games of the season and a wild card playoff game at New England in a reserve role. Connolly spent the 2006 season on injured reserve with a finger injury. After being released by Jacksonville prior to the start of the 2007 season, Connolly was signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 12, 2007. He split the 2008 season between the practice squad and 53-man roster for the Patriots, seeing action in one game.
During his seven NFL seasons, Connolly has started in 28 of 46 regular season games and in four of five postseason games. Connolly set an NFL record for the longest kickoff return by an offensive lineman with a 71-yard return of a second quarter kickoff vs. Green bay on Dec. 19, 2010. He was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance.
Fanene, 30, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. The 6-4, 285-pounder originally entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick (233rd overall) by Cincinnati in 2005 out of Utah. He has registered 12.5 sacks in his last two full NFL seasons with 6.5 in 2011 and 6.0 in 2009. Fanene was limited to two games in 2010 due to an injury.
Last season, Fanene played in 16 games with two starts and finished with 24 total tackles and a career-high 6.5 sacks. During his NFL career, Fanene has played in 71 games with 17 starts and has accumulated 103 total tackles, 13 sacks, four passes defensed, one interception that was returned for a touchdown in 2009 and three fumble recoveries.
Fells, 28, is a veteran of five NFL seasons with Atlanta (2006), St. Louis (2008-10) and Denver (2011). He originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Atlanta in 2006 out of UC-Davis.
Fells, 6-4, 272 pounds, has played in 58 NFL games with 26 starts and has totaled 88 receptions for 1,001 yards and eight touchdowns. Last season in Denver, Wells started in 15 of 16 games and caught 19 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns.
Fells made the 53-man roster as a rookie with the Falcons but was inactive for all 16 games. He spent the entire 2007 season on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders after being released by Atlanta prior to the start of the regular season. Fells began the 2008 season on the Tampa Bay practice squad before being signed to the St. Louis 53-man roster. Following three seasons with the Rams, Fells signed with Denver as an unrestricted free agent in 2011.
Lloyd, 30, is a veteran of nine NFL seasons with San Francisco (2003-05), Washington (2006-07), Chicago (2008), Denver (2009-11) and St. Louis (2011).
Lloyd was originally drafted by San Francisco in the fourth round (124th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Illinois. He was traded by San Francisco to Washington in 2006. After being released by Washington in 2008, he was signed by Chicago for a season in 2008 before being signed by Denver in 2009. Last season, Lloyd started the first four games with Denver before being traded to St. Louis on Oct. 17 where he started in 10 of 11 games. His 2011 season totals were 70 receptions for 966 yards and five touchdowns. Lloyd had 19 receptions for 283 yards with Denver and 51 receptions for 683 yards and five touchdowns with St. Louis.
Lloyd, 6-0, 188 pounds, has played in 112 NFL games with 73 starts and has registered 311 receptions for 4,784 yards with 31 touchdowns during his nine NFL seasons. His best statistical season was in 2010 with Denver when he earned his first career Pro Bowl invitation after leading the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards alongside 11 touchdowns. He also led the NFL with 18 receptions of 25 or more yards in 2010 and his 18.8 receiving average was the third-highest since the 1970 NFL merger.
Cox, 24, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on Aug. 2, 1011 out of Utah. The 6-3, 250 pound Cox spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve with a neck injury he suffered in a preseason game.