FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Cornerback Eric Rowe added some depth to the New England Patriots’ secondary and performed well after he was traded from the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

Now he’ll have to work his way up the depth chart again.

Malcolm Butler, once a Super Bowl savior, is back for his fourth season in New England after a tumultuous offseason that included a brief flirtation with the New Orleans Saints as a restricted free agent. He’ll be paired with Stephon Gilmore, whom the Patriots added as a free agent on a five-year, $65 million deal. Together they could be one of the best cornerback pairs in the league.

Rowe was caught off guard by the Gilmore signing.

“It surprised me because, I think I was on vacation,” Rowe said. “I was like ‘whoa.’ That threw me off. But it’s just like another challenge in a way. (Gilmore) got here, he’s a great teammate, he’s a real cool guy. Now he’s just someone to work with now. I mean, how it affects me, yeah, it kind of puts me down on depth chartwise, but my mindset is to just come out here and just keep making plays. Really, that’s just how I have fun.”

Rowe, a second-round (47th overall) pick by the Eagles in 2015, was acquired by the Patriots in a September trade. He appeared in nine regular-season games with seven starts – three at cornerback, four at defensive back – and was credited with 25 tackles, an interception and eight passes defensed. Rowe appeared in three playoff games, including the Super Bowl.

He prefers not to look at his situation as competing for a spot.

“Right now, in my head, I’m not even thinking about ‘I’m competing with (Butler) and (Gilmore, or) playing for third.’ In my head right now it’s just, ‘How am I going to get better each day? How am I going to improve myself?’ I’m still trying to improve myself, tying to show the coaches I can fit in the system and play multiple roles.”

That includes cornerback in the slot.

“I did play a little bit of slot in the beginning when I was in Philadelphia so that really was my first experience,” Rowe said. “It’s not like I’m completely new to it, I kind of know what to expect. I know it’s some more thinking, a lot more moving parts.”

Coach Bill Belichick knows Rowe has some experience inside.

“He played safety in college so that’s one position inside from corner, so there’s certainly some relevance to that,” Belichick said.