The Patriots have made another solid, important move this evening. According to a tweet from Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe, the team has come to terms with free agent center / guard Dan Connolly.
It was widely reported that the two sides were working hard to come to a deal before the start of the new league year on Tuesday. That did not happen, Connolly hit unrestricted free agency, but three days later, he's back in the fold.
We've talked about the benefits of getting Connolly back quite a lot on the blog. He's an important player who could very well be the team's starting center next season. Over the past two seasons, Connolly has spent extensive time at all three interior line positions. At the start of 2010, he was the team's starter at left guard when Logan Mankins was holding out with a contract dispute. Later in the year, he started at right guard when Stephen Neal landed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. In 2011, Connolly started nearly the entire year at center when Dan Koppen broke his leg in the season opener and subsequently landed on injured reserve.
Connolly is by no means an elite player. However, he is an above average starter who has tremendous versatility. At 29, he could certainly be the team's starting center for the next couple of years. However, if the Patriots decide to bring in an upgrade at the position, Connolly would still be a critical piece as a top interior back-up who could start whenever needed.