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Patriots immediately fill roster opening, sign former Browns DT John Hughes

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The Patriots have added a former starter to their roster.

The New England Patriots cut defensive tackle Anthony Johnson today in order to sign a bigger option, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The Patriots have signed former Browns defensive tackle John Hughes.

Hughes was the 87th overall pick of the 2012 draft after being a two-year starter for the University of Cincinnati. Hughes has spent his entire career with the Browns and signed a 4-year extension prior to the 2015 season; he was released by Cleveland on September 20th.

Hughes is 6’2 1/2 and weighs between 310-320 pounds. He is a fairly explosive player that was a part of the Browns 3-4 defensive front. He has fallen out of favor with the new Browns regime, but he’s clearly a talented player.

It’s probable that former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi played a role in bringing Hughes to New England, via scouting or a sales pitch, after the two overlapped in 2013.

Hughes joins a beefy rotation with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, and Vincent Valentine as the Patriots gear up to stop the rushing attacks of the Bills (twice), Browns, Bengals, and Steelers all before the bye week.

Anthony Johnson turned heads for his performance during the preseason, but he was unable to sustain that level of production during the regular season. The fact that Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers, and Chris Long can play the same sub-rusher role, and the eventual return of Rob Ninkovich meant that Johnson’s time was coming towards a close.

Hughes is roughly 30-40 pounds heavier than Johnson, so it’s clear the Patriots wanted another body in the rotation. Johnson is eligible for the practice squad and, coincidentally, the Patriots have an opening.

The fact the Patriots filled this opening with another defensive tackle is a pretty good sign that either Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett will be ready to play quarterback against the Bills.

Welcome to the team, John Hughes!