The Patriots made a pair of minor moves Tuesday by re-signing veterans Je'Rod Cherry and Patrick Pass. Both were unrestricted free agents and have been key members of the team's special teams units for the past three years.
Cherry will enter his ninth NFL season and fourth with the Patriots. The backup safety is one of the team's top cover men on special teams, particularly on punt coverage. He teamed with fellow safety Chris Akins in 2003 to form one of the league's best cover tandems. Akins' signing as a free agent with Miami recently made Cherry's return more pressing.
The Patriots are also rather thin at the safety position, although Cherry has seen very little action on defense during his Patriots tenure. He more than likely will remain as strictly a special teams performer, where he took part in 11 games in 2003.
He finished sixth on the club with 12 special teams tackles despite missing five games with a leg injury. In three postseason outings, he recorded one special teams stop. Cherry also added four tackles and a sack on defense.
Pass, a former seventh-round pick who will enter his fourth season with the Patriots, joins Fred McCrary as returners at fullback. Pass was released late in training camp last year before being re-signed on Sept. 22 for the remainder of the season.
Pass saw very little action on offense despite the team's significant injury problems at fullback. With both McCrary and free agent Larry Centers (who is contemplating retirement) out of the lineup, Pass still got precious few opportunities, catching just four passes for 21 yards and carrying only six times for 27 more.
But as is the case with Cherry, Pass is a solid special teamer who can provide insurance as a kick returner. He averaged 23.1 yards on 11 returns in 2003 and added 10 special teams tackles while taking part in 13 games with one start. He participated in all three postseason games, making one special teams tackle.
Cherry and Pass join Kevin Faulk, J.J. Stokes, Don Davis and Russ Hochstein as free agents who re-signed with the Patriots.