Just one day after trading Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions in an apparent cost-saving move, the New England Patriots have added to the depth at their safety position again: as first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson, the team has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with free agent and former Los Angeles Chargers safety Adrian Phillips.
Phillips originally entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie signing back in 2014. He moved between the Chargers’ active roster and practice squad during the first two years with the team, but earned a bigger role within the team’s secondary in 2016: a versatile player capable of serving as a box safety/linebacker hybrid, Phillips developed into a key rotational player for the team before earning a starting spot by the 2018 campaign.
The role was not too big for the Texas product — quite the opposite: appearing in all 16 games for the first time in his career, Phillips delivered an outstanding season on defense and in the kicking game, and was named both to the Pro Bowl and the first All-Pro team for his special teams play. While he failed to build on his performance the following season, in part due to a broken arm that forced L.A. to place him on temporary injured reserve, he has the tools to be a valuable defender in New England.
What his role will look like remains to be seen, but the expectation is that Phillips will wear numerous hats in New England’s secondary. He might share strong safety duties with Patrick Chung, serve as a deep man in Harmon’s former role alongside Devin McCourty, or be used as a slot cornerback — all roles the 27-year-old played during his time with the Chargers. His versatility makes him an intriguing chess piece for the Patriots to play with.
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