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Patriots sign S Brandon McGowan

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots signed unrestricted free agent safety Brandon McGowan today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Additionally, the Patriots released first-year punter Tom Malone.

Brandon McGowan, 25, has played in 25 career games with 13 starts over four NFL seasons, all with the Chicago Bears (2005-08). The 5-foot-11-inch, 207-pound safety was originally signed by the Bears as a rookie free agent from the University of Maine in the spring of 2005. He has recorded 115 career tackles (74 solo), two interceptions, five passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 16 special teams tackles. In 2008 with the Bears, McGowan played in the first two games of the season with one start and recorded five tackles (2 solo) and a pass defensed. He was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury on Sept. 19 and missed the remainder of the 2008 season. In 2007, McGowan played in 14 games with nine starts and made a career-high 80 tackles (52 solo), two interceptions and 10 special teams tackles while starting six times at strong safety, twice at free safety and once as a third safety.

In 2005, McGowan was the only undrafted rookie to make the Bears' active roster following training camp. That season, he played in eight games with three starts, including two starts at strong safety and one start at free safety. He finished his first pro season with 29 tackles (20 solo) and four special teams stops. He was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury on Jan. 10, 2006, and missed the Bears' playoff game following the 2005 season. McGowan began the 2006 season on the physically unable to perform list and was activated for the Bears' Nov. 5 game. He recorded one tackle and two special teams stops in that contest, but was placed on injured reserve with an Achilles injury the following day and missed the remainder of the 2006 season.

Tom Malone, 24, had two stints on the Patriots practice squad in 2008 - from Sept. 10 to Sept. 15 and from Nov. 26 through the end of the season. He was also on the Patriots practice squad late in the 2006 season and was with the team for its 2007 training camp. He was signed to the Patriots practice squad on December 20, 2006, and was signed to the active roster on January 23, 2007 before being released on Aug. 22, 2007. The 6-foot, 205-pound punter was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent on May 5, 2006, out of the University of Southern California.

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