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Patriots tabbing familiar foes

It's no secret New England has been among the busiest teams on the free agent market. The Patriots have signed 17 veterans since the end of the season, and many of those faces are somewhat familiar.

Of the 17 veteran free agents the Patriots have added this offseason, seven came from within the division. New England has taken four former Miami players (Terrence Shaw, Damon Huard, Bert Emanuel and Larry Izzo) and three players with Buffalo ties (Joe Panos, Antowain Smith and Ray Hill). For the most part, all of those players had backup roles last yea. However, Shaw, Panos, Smith and Emanuel all have significant starting experience and should figure prominently in training camp competition.

The team with the second-most rival relocations is Miami, which has signed four players who spent 2000 in the AFC East. The Dolphins inked tackle Marcus Spriggs and cornerback Daryl Porter from Buffalo and wide receiver Dedric Ward and quarterback Ray Lucas from New York.

The rest of the league has not followed the pattern of the Patriots and Dolphins thus far. The entire NFC has only seen nine players change teams within the same division. Defensive tackle Jim Flanigan, who was courted by the Patriots, signed with the Green Bay after spending 2000 with Chicago. Thus far he is the only player to relocated within the NFC Central this offseason.

It is not uncommon for the Patriots to tab AFC East rivals through free agency. Last offseason they had former Jets Chad Cascadden, Bobby Hamilton, and Otis Smith and former Indianapolis wideout Aaron Bailey signed either prior to or during training camp. Cascadden retired during camp, and Bailey didn't make the roster, but the team did add tight end Jermaine Wiggins late in the season off waivers from the Jets.

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