A day after trading Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions, the Patriots appear to have filled part of that void by signing safety and All-Pro Special Teamer Adrian Phillips, per a report from Yahoo Sports Charles Robinson. But don't let the "special teamer" part of that worry you. He's also a versatile and promising young safety who will improve the Patriots defense.
Phillips missed much of 2019 with a broken arm after a breakout season in 2018 that saw him with 94 tackles on defense and make the Pro Bowl for his special teams work. He was an emerging player for the Chargers after going undrafted and spending his first two seasons up and down from the practice squad.
Take this quote from SB Nation at the end of the 2018 season to see what he meant to the Chargers defense by the end of his fifth season with the team:
From a statistical standpoint, he leads the NFL in special teams’ tackles (17). He’s also tied for second on the team in passes broken up (10), third in defensive tackles (77) and is allowing a miniscule 36.6% completion percentage (15/44) and a 44.8 quarterback rating on passes thrown into his coverage area. He covers running backs, tight ends and wide receivers one-on-one and always seems to be at the bottom of the pile in run support. He is literally everywhere and does everything for this defense. Jamie Hoyle
We knew the Patriots needed to get younger at safety and Phillips is an excellent fit. He'll be 28 in a couple weeks and will offset some of what was lost with Duron Harmon and Nate Ebner. He'll give the Patriots another piece to play with in the secondary, where Phillips is a versatile matchup player.
He also has a soft spot for playing special teams. "That's what got me here," Phillips told the LA Times. "That's what got me these six years in the league. … So I still love special teams."
Phillips makes the Patriots younger and cheaper in the secondary, but also gives them a promising player who checks all the boxes and can be a valuable tool against the athletic offenses of the AFC.