FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Tedy Bruschi today. Financial terms of the two-year deal were not announced. In another move, the Patriots announced the release of veteran offensive tackle Zefross Moss.
Bruschi, 26, recorded a career-high 138 total tackles, while starting in 14 games at outside linebacker during the 1999 season. He helped lead a Patriots defensive unit which finished the season ranked eighth overall in the NFL, the highest ranking by a Patriots defensive unit since 1988 (4th). Bruschi recorded double-digit tackle totals in seven games, twice recording a career-high 14 tackles, at the N.Y. Jets (9/12/99) and at Buffalo (11/28/99). His 138 tackles were second on the team. Since replacing Todd Collins as a starter in the ninth game of the 1998 season, Bruschi has recorded 193 tackles in 21 games, an average of 9.2 per game.
He was originally drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft (86th overall). In four seasons, the 6-foot-1-inch, 245-pound linebacker has started 22 of 62 games played, recorded 260 tackles (168 solo), one interception, seven forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Bruschi is a relentless pass rusher whose 52 career sacks at Arizona tied Derrick Thomas' collegiate record. Since joining the Patriots, he has been credited with 12 sacks, including four in each of his first two NFL seasons. Those 12 sacks have come in 11 different regular season games. The Patriots are 11-0 in those games.
During the 1998 campaign, Bruschi finished fourth on the team with 81 tackles, including a pair of sacks and three forced fumbles. He assumed the starting linebacker position when Collins went down with an injury and in his first start recorded 10 tackles at Buffalo (11/15/98). He recorded 10 tackles on two other occasions versus Miami (11/23/98) and at NY Jets (12/27/98).
In 1997, he totaled 30 defensive tackles and finished third on the team with four sacks and 13 special teams tackles. He started in his first game, versus Indianapolis (9/7/97) and recorded four tackles, including a sack and a fumble recovery.
During his rookie season in 1996, Bruschi finished third on the team with four sacks and 17 special teams tackles while the Patriots won the conference title and advanced to Super Bowl XXXI. During the playoffs, he intercepted a Mark Brunell pass in the AFC Championship game against Jacksonville to clinch the Patriots victory. In Super Bowl XXXI, he sacked Brett Farve twice, setting a team Super Bowl record and finishing just one shy of the all-time Super Bowl record.
Moss, 33, joined the Patriots in 1997 and anchored the right side of the offensive line, starting 42 games during that three-year span. The 6-foot-6-inch, 325-pound tackle started 13 games last season, missing three games due to a left ankle sprain, which he suffered in the season opener at New York (9/12/99). The Alabama State product was not drafted, but signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie free agent in 1988. After the 1988 season, he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a 10th round pick in the 1990 NFL draft. He played six seasons with the Colts, from 1989-94. In 1995, he became an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Detroit Lions, where he spent two years blocking for Barry Sanders. He became an unrestricted free agent following the 1996 season and signed with the Patriots on March 31, 1997.