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Pats sign free agents Steve Martin and Ryan Phillips; Waive two others

FOXBORO, Mass - The New England Patriots announced the signings of two free agents today, defensive tackle Steve Martin and linebacker Ryan Phillips. Terms of the deals were not announced. Subsequently, the Patriots also announced the release of two players who were signed after the season and assigned to NFL Europe, safety Mark Washington and defensive end Cecil Deckard.

Martin, 27, joins the Patriots after recording a career year with the New York Jets last season when he started 15 of 16 games and record 75 total tackles, including 2.5 sacks. The six-year veteran was originally drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round (151st overall) of the 1996 NFL draft out of Missouri. The 6-foot-4-inch, 319-pound defensive tackle participated in 30 games over three seasons with the Colts before being waived during the 1998 season. He was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles and started three of the final 13 games. In 1999, he started 15 of 16 games for the Eagles and recorded 60 tackles, including a pair of sacks. In 2000, he signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs and appeared in every game. Last year, he was released by the Chiefs and signed with the New York Jets on Sept. 2, 2001. In six seasons, he has started 38 of 87 games and combined for 222 tackles, including 6.5 career sacks.

Phillips, 28, joins the Patriots after starting six of 13 games for the Indianapolis Colts in 2001. The 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound linebacker was originally drafted by the New York Giants in the third round (68th pick) of the 1997 NFL draft. He played four seasons in New York and became a full-time starter in 1999 and 2000. He recorded a career-high 74 tackles in 1999. Last year, he was signed by the Colts as a free agent in September and provided 47 tackles, including a sack. The five-year veteran has 195 career tackles (129 solo), including 3.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, including four interceptions and one forced fumble.

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