FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots signed veteran safety John Lynch today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Additionally, the Patriots placed veteran offensive lineman Barry Stokes on the reserve/injured list with a back injury.
Lynch, 36, is a veteran of 15 NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-2003) and the Denver Broncos (2004-07). The 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound safety has earned nine career Pro Bowl selections and has been to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons, including 2007. His nine Pro Bowls are the second highest total in NFL history for a safety (Ken Houston, 10). Lynch has played in 224 career games with 191 starts, giving him the third highest career starts total of any active NFL player (Derrick Brooks, 205; Kevin Carter, 203). His career totals include 1,277 tackles (789 solo), 13 sacks, 26 interceptions, 100 passes defensed, 16 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and 24 special teams tackles. He has also started 12 career playoff games and was a member of Tampa Bay's Super Bowl XXXVII championship team.
Lynch spent the first 11 seasons of his career (1993-2003) with the Buccaneers after being selected by Tampa Bay in the third round (82nd overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Stanford. He finished his Buccaneers career ranked second on the team's all-time games played list (164), third on the all-time tackles list (973) and tied for fourth on the all-time interceptions list (23). Lynch became a full-time starter for Tampa Bay in 1996, when he led all Buccaneers defensive backs with 103 tackles (74 solo), beginning a run of six straight seasons with 100 or more total tackles. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 1997 and in 1998 again led all Tampa Bay defensive backs with 107 tackles (55 solo). He returned to the Pro Bowl in 1999 to start a string of four straight all-star seasons, totaling a career-high 128 tackles (68 solo) while also recording a career-best 14 passes defensed. He started every game in 2000 and 2001, earning Pro Bowl berths both years. In 2002, Lynch earned his fourth straight Pro Bowl nod and helped Tampa Bay win its first Super Bowl title. He closed out his Tampa Bay career with a 95-tackle season in 2003.
Lynch joined the Denver Broncos as a free agent on March 23, 2004, after being released by Tampa Bay on March 16, 2004. He played in 60 games with 59 starts over four seasons in Denver (2004-07), totaling 304 tackles (215 solo), seven sacks, three interceptions, 26 passes defensed, nine forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He returned to the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Broncos in 2004, beginning another streak of four straight all-star nods. In 2005, he helped the Broncos advance to the AFC Championship Game while recording a career-high four forced fumbles. He started every game in 2006 and totaled 97 tackles (64 solo), his highest tackle total in five seasons. Last season, Lynch played in 13 games with 12 starts for Denver and finished fifth on the team with 62 tackles (48 solo) while earning his ninth career Pro Bowl selection. He was released by the Broncos on July 31, 2008.
Stokes, 34, was signed by the Patriots on Aug. 2 and has played in 83 career games with 44 starts for the Miami Dolphins (1998), Green Bay Packers (2000-01), Cleveland Browns (2002-03), Atlanta Falcons (2005) and Detroit Lions (2006). He also spent time on the active roster but did not see game action with the Dolphins (1997), Packers (1999), Oakland Raiders (1999) and Lions (2007). He spent the 2004 season on injured reserve with the New York Giants. Stokes was originally signed by the Lions as a rookie free agent out of Eastern Michigan on April 26, 1996. He spent much of the 1996 season on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad and began the 1997 season on the St. Louis Rams' practice squad.