New England tendered a restricted level qualifying offer to offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer Thursday, the team's only restricted free agent.
Thursday was the league-wide deadline for teams to tender offers to any of their restricted free agents they wish to retain right of first refusal/compensation for. With the qualifying offer, any team wishing to sign Ruegamer would have to give the Patriots a third-round draft pick if New England were not to match an offer. In 1999 Ruegamer was taken in the third-round (72nd overall) by Miami.
Since coming to the Patriots on Nov. 16, 2000, Ruegamer has appeared in 20 games. He made one start, which came in Week Three this season when center Damien Woody was held back with a neck injury. Woody entered the game on the Patriots' third series after Ruegamer was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty.
Ruegamer also stepped in for Joe Andruzzi in the second half at Miami in Week Four after Andruzzi was lost with a knee injury. For the most part Ruegamer has served as an extra tight end in goal line situations and has played a role on special teams.
The team had not reached deals of any sort with any of the nine unrestricted free agents by 5:30 p.m., though efforts were still being made. Barring any late transactions Thursday night, running back Antowain Smith; linebackers Roman Phifer and Bryan Cox; defensive linemen Brandon Mitchell and Riddick Parker; tackle Grant Williams; cornerbacks Terrell Buckley and Ray Hill; and tight end Rod Rutledge are all unrestricted free agents as of 12:01 a.m. Friday.
New England's front office is in Indianapolis for the college scouting combine, but negotiations with some of the team's free agents are ongoing.