The Patriots were busy throughout the month signing several of their draft picks before the start of camp. At press time, top pick Richard Seymour was not officially signed, but was expected to be on board the veteran reporting day.
Seven other players inked deals with the team, bringing the total number of rookies signed thus far to eight. Matt Light, Kenyatta Jones, Jabari Holloway, Arther Love, Leonard Myers, Owen Pochman and T.J. Turner joined Hakim Akbar (who signed last month) on the list.
Myers, a sixth-round pick, was the first to agree to terms. The cornerback out of Miami taken 200th overall with the team's second sixth-round pick signed on July 2 and received a $55,000 signing bonus and a four-year deal worth slightly more than $1.3 million. (All financial terms are according to ESPN.com).
At Miami, he started 19 of 42 games, recorded 132 tackles and nine interceptions. Myers was a second team All-Big East performer during his senior year and is expected to add depth to a secondary that struggled at times last season.
Turner, a linebacker taken with a seventh-round selection, was the next to sign on July 5. The former Michigan State standout received a $19,000 signing bonus and a three-year deal worth $915,000. He started 24 of 38 games for the Spartans, recording 162 tackles, four sacks and five interceptions in his career.
Turner is an oversized linebacker at 6-3 and 255 pounds but his athleticism intrigued the Patriots. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer as a junior before a serious shoulder injury limited him to four games in 2000. That was the major reason he was available so late in the draft.
The Patriots added three more rookies to the stable on July 13, including a pair of tight ends. Holloway and Love, taken in the fourth and sixth rounds respectively, joined seventh rounder Pochman.
Holloway played his college ball at Notre Dame, where he was primarily a blocker but did display soft hands and good athleticism. He earned a $310,000 signing bonus and a four-year deal worth more than $1.62 million. The 6-2, 258-pound tight end started 37 of 44 games for the Irish, catching 41 passes for 692 yards and seven touchdowns in Notre Dame's run-oriented offense.
Love is a project out of South Carolina State with limited experience. At 6-4 and 250 pounds he possesses prototypical size and speed. He caught 34 passes for 562 yards and four touchdowns in 30 games in his career. He received a $65,000 signing bonus and signed a four-year pact worth more than $1.37 million.
Of the two, Holloway appears to be the more polished player, but Love's skills may make it difficult for the Patriots to sneak him onto the practice squad, where he would have to clear waivers. He also is coming off groin surgery that will slow him down early in camp. Both players will be heavily involved in a six-man fight to earn roster spots with Rod Rutledge, Jermaine Wiggins, Johnny McWilliams and Chris Eitzmann.
Pochman is a place-kicker out of Brigham Young University who worked extensively with punter Lee Johnson in Utah during the offseason. He has a strong leg and is a proven bad-weather performer. He compiled 333 points while converting 72.5 percent of his 91 field goal attempts during his career with the Cougars. He signed a two-year deal worth $530,000, including a $23,000 signing bonus. Depending on his ability, Pochman could provide a cheaper alternative to veteran Adam Vinatieri, who is entering the final year of his contract.
The next rookie to sign was Jones, the team's fourth-round pick out of South Florida. The Patriots traded up to get the 6-3, 305-pound tackle with the first pick on Day Two during draft weekend. He'll earn slightly more than $1.67 million over four years, including a $365,000 signing bonus, and figures to fight it out with second-round pick Matt Light and second-year players Adrian Klemm and Greg Robinson-Randall for playing time at tackle.
Light was the latest to sign and did so on July 22, one day before rookies were to report to Bryant College. His is reportedly a four-year contract worth $2.75 million with a signing bonus of around $1.2 million.
Light, the 48th pick in the draft, played left tackle for Purdue last season where he protected the blind side of second-round pick Drew Brees, the Boilermakers quarterback who was taken by the San Diego Chargers.
The deals leave the Patriots with just two remaining players unsigned at press time: Seymour and third-round pick Brock Williams. Williams will miss most, if not all of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a May passing camp, lessening the priority to sign him.
Seymour, on the other hand, reportedly agreed to a deal late July 23, the reporting day for rookies. He was not in camp for the rookie conditioning run that day and will likely undergo that test with the veterans. The team is depending on Seymour to help a thin defensive line that is already undermanned with Willie McGinest and Brandon Mitchell on the shelf with injuries at the start of camp. Seymour was the sixth pick in the draft out of the University of Georgia.