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Patriots reportedly sign former Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu

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New England is adding to its secondary.

NFL: Oakland Raiders Rookie Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots defense is coming off one of its best performances of the year: the team held a potent Green Bay Packers offense to just 17 points. However, there is always room for improvement — and for depth, which is why today’s news that the team is adding to its secondary should not necessarily be considered a surprising development: according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New England is signing free agent safety Obi Melifonwu.

A second-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2017, Melifonwu struggled with injuries during his first two seasons in the NFL. The Connecticut product appeared in just five games during his rookie year in between two separate stints on injured reserve. In late August, the Raiders waived the 24-year old with an injury designation and subsequently again placed him on IR. Last week, the team parted finally ways with him.

Shortly after hitting the open market, New England brought Melifonwu in for a free agency workout — and apparently the team liked what it saw as it now adds him to a safety group that is headed by veterans Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. Provided he can stay healthy, the 6’4, 225 lbs defender will likely serve as a safety/linebacker hybrid in the mold of Chung and also see regular playing time on special teams.

With the Patriots currently having 53 men on their active roster, they will have to make a corresponding transaction once the signing of Melifonwu becomes official. Together with second-round rookie Duke Dawson being designated the first IR-return player — one that is expected to be activated soon — New England is adding some serious depth to its defense.