SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 11: Steve Gregory #28 of the San Diego Chargers returns an interception for a touchodwn in front of Dante Hughes #33 and Takeo Spikes #51 for a 30-10 lead over the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 11, 2011 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 37-10. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
UPDATE: Ian Rapoport says that the deal will average between $2 and $3 million per year. Sounds like a very reasonable price.
Heading into the 2012 offseason, many fans believed that the Patriots' secondary was the team's biggest area of need. On the third day of free agency, the Patriots have reportedly added a new face to that unit. According to ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, the Patriots have agreed to terms with former Chargers safety Steve Gregory.
According to Reiss, Gregory had visited the team over the past two days. The contract will supposedly be for three years.
Of course, we'll bring more on Gregory as the story develops, but this is definitely a nice depth signing. The 5'11", 195 lbs defensive back out of Syracuse has experience playing all over the defensive backfield. According to Pro Football Focus, he played primarily strong safety for the Chargers the last two years. However, in the past, he has played free safety as well as slot cornerback.
For the Patriots, I envision Gregory as a potential starter at free safety next to Pat Chung. In a "worst case" scenario, Gregory could be the team's nickel back. Considering he can likely play safety or cornerback, he would definitely be a great fit as an extra defensive back, and would see a ton of snaps either way.
Overall, a solid signing by the Patriots that somewhat reminds me of the Jonathan Fanene deal from yesterday. Gregory is a solid player, and I don't think his addition will deter the Patriots from making further improvements to the secondary.
Extra Point: The Patriots have officially announced the return of ST Matthew Slater, as well as the signing of defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, who was with the team for a brief stint during the 2011 season.