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Release: Patriots receive rights to RFA Rodney Bailey

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Pittsburgh Steelers declined to match the offer sheet the New England Patriots signed Rodney Bailey to last week. As a result, the restricted free agent officially joined the Patriots at 4:00 p.m. ET today in exchange for a sixth round draft choice in the 2004 NFL draft. Bailey is just the fourth restricted free agent that the Patriots have acquired in their history and the first since 1996.

Bailey, 24, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL draft out of Ohio State. The 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound defensive end did not miss a game in three seasons with the Steelers, including all four playoff games. In three seasons, he has 38 career tackles, including 9.5 sacks, and has recovered one fumble. In 2002, he finished fourth on the team with 5.5 sacks on a unit that ranked third in the league with 50. Last year, he appeared in every game for the Steelers and recorded two sacks.

Since free agency began in 1993, the Patriots have signed 11 restricted free agents to offer sheets. Seven of those offer sheets were matched by the respective teams. Bailey is the first to have been acquired by the Patriots since linebacker Monty Brown signed in 1996 after three years in Buffalo.

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