The Patriots flurry of offseason activity could be continuing as former New Orleans Saints safety Rob Kelly appears to be next on the team's list.
Head Coach Bill Belichick and his personnel chief, Scott Pioli, have spent significant time during the free agency period searching for depth in the secondary. The Patriots released cornerback Terrance Shaw and aren't expected to re-sign free agent Terrell Buckley. Also, backup safety Matt Stevens was lost to the Houston Texans in the expansion draft in February, leaving some openings for the nickel and dime back roles.
In addition to signing former New York Jets safety Chris Hayes last week, the Patriots have worked out a few defensive backs as potential replacements, including cornerbacks Artrell Hawkins (Cincinnati) and Terry Cousin (Miami), but both have since signed elsewhere.
The 6-0, 199-pound Kelly could provide depth in the secondary alongside Hayes and youngsters such as Antwan Harris, Ben Kelly and Leonard Myers. Rob Kelly, 27, spent four seasons with the Saints (1997-2000) after being taken in the second round of the 1997 draft out of Ohio State. He started 16 of his 64 career games, recording 90 tackles and four interceptions, including one that he returned 79 yards for a touchdown in 1998.
The Saints chose not to re-sign Kelly after the 2000 season and he became an unrestricted free agent. He failed to hook on anywhere in 2001 but his hard-hitting, aggressive style at free safety could help the Patriots replace Stevens, who played a similar role for New England last year.
The Patriots haven't officially made an announcement regarding Kelly's signing, but all indications point toward the move being made soon.