Entering the offseason, the New England Patriots had 13 of their players about to become unrestricted free agents. Last week, veteran defensive edge Chris Long announced that he would not return to the team in search for a more active role on a team.
Of the 12 players left, the first has been re-signed today. According to Jeff Howe, the Patriots and fullback James Develin agreed to terms:
James Develin has agreed to re-sign with the Patriots on a two-year deal. Two sides made significant progress Friday.
Seeing the Patriots re-sign the 28-year old does not come as a surprise. Howe reported last week that the two sides were expected to reach an agreement, which they apparently did today.
After going undrafted in 2010 and initially playing minor league football, Develin joined the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad. One day after the Bengals released him in September 2012, the Patriots signed Develin – first to the practice squad, then to the active roster of which he has been a part ever since. The lone exception was the 2015 season, which he missed in its entirety due to a broken tibia.
After his return, Develin played 421 of a possible 1,362 snaps (30.9%) and reestablished himself as an important and versatile part of New England’s offense. He worked as a lead blocker in the running game, a backup tight end and also saw regular playing time on special teams. In short: Develin is one of the best fullbacks in the NFL. And now the Patriots have secured his services for another two seasons.
[UPDATE 3:12 PM ET] Howe reported additional details on the contract extension, noting that it is "worth approximately $1.4M per season. So about $2.8M over two years."