The Patriots took a big step toward filling the shoes of departed nose tackle Ted Washington on Wednesday by signing free agent defensive lineman Keith Traylor.
The 6-2, 340-pound Traylor is a 12-year NFL veteran who has spent time with the Broncos, Packers, Chiefs and most recently the Bears. He started 10 games last season in Chicago, but missed six games due to an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee. In the 10 games Traylor totaled 18 tackles, one forced fumble and three passes defensed.
A former inside linebacker who grew into his role along the defensive line, Traylor like Washington specializes in stopping the run. Over his 12 seasons he has started 107 of 171 games played. His career totals include 427 tackles, 13 sacks, two interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 26 passes defensed. Since becoming a regular starter with the Broncos in 1997 Traylor averaged 43 tackles and one sack per season from his spot on the interior defensive line.
Traylor brings his decade-plus of playing experience to a New England defensive line that is built around a number of developing young players. Along with Traylor, the Patriots have Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green, Ty Warren, Dan Klecko, Rodney Bailey and Ethan Kelley in the defensive trenches heading into 2004.
The 34-year-old Traylor was originally drafted in the third round of the 1991 NFL draft out of Central (Oklahoma) State by the Denver Broncos. The Patriots confirmed the signing Wednesday afternoon.