A day after Tom Brady announced he was leaving New England, the Patriots spent the first day of free agency in cost-cutting mode.

Finding a new quarterback will be the top priority for Coach Bill Belichick as he begins the task of reconstructing his roster in the post-Brady era. But other departures have left him with holes to plug on defense.

On Wednesday, safety Duron Harmon was traded to the Lions, defensive tackle Danny Shelton also landed in Detroit on a two-year, $8 million deal, and offensive lineman Ted Karras agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Dolphins. Linebacker Elandon Roberts is also expected to sign with the Dolphins.

That’s in addition to the departures of linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who agreed to a four-year, $51 million deal with Dolphins, and linebacker Jamie Collins, who’s joining former teammates in Detroit after agreeing to a three-year, $30 million deal.

The moves left the Patriots about $13 million under the salary cap.

In Collins, Van Noy and Shelton, New England loses three of its top performers from a unit that led the league in total defense in 2019, allowing 272 yards per game. The Patriots gave up 20 points per game, third fewest in the NFL.


Collins led the team with 81 tackles and seven sacks. Van Noy had 56 tackles and was second with 6 1/2 sacks. Shelton’s 61 tackles were tied for the most by a Patriots defensive lineman. Roberts pulled double duty, playing linebacker and filling in at fullback.

Karras was a backup guard and center for most of his first three seasons with the Patriots, but replaced David Andrews as the starting center in 2019 because Andrews had blood clots in his lungs and missed the entire season.

Harmon’s numbers weren’t gaudy (22 tackles and two interceptions) as the third safety behind Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. He was due to make $5.5 million next season if he’d stayed with the Patriots. Trading him leaves New England with $1.25 million in dead cap money.

What can’t be replaced as easily is the leadership Harmon brought to the locker room.

McCourty is coming back on a two-year deal and will help anchor a secondary that also will return AP Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore at cornerback.

Still, adding depth to New England’s aging defense will be a focal point.


McCourty and Chung will both turn 33 in August. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive lineman Lawrence Guy are 30, and Gilmore will turn 30 in September.

Aside from free agency and trades, Belichick can find help via the draft. The Patriots have 12 picks, including five in the first four rounds.

Free-agent contracts and trades agreed upon in recent days or weeks won’t become official even as the NFL’s business year has begun.

That also means free agents involved won’t be getting paid until those deals are signed and physicals are taken. The NFL has barred travel to team facilities by free agents and also has banned team personnel from traveling to meet with players as a safeguard against the new coronavirus.

Several people familiar with a memo the league sent to the 32 teams on Tuesday night tell The Associated Press that while teams can announce reaching agreements with free agents or concluding trades, nothing is official.

Although information on dozens of contract agreements and a slew of trades has been leaked, teams were not allowed to complete the deals until 4 p.m. Wednesday. However, all of those transactions now come with the caveat that physicals need to occur before they become official.


Veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins agreed to a four-year, $32 million contract with the New Orleans Saints.

Jenkins returns to the team that made him a first-round draft choice out of Ohio State in 2009. Jenkins, 32, has played 11 NFL seasons – his first five with the Saints and the last six with the Philadelphia Eagles, who declined to pick up his option for the 2020 season.

The Denver Broncos acquired five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey from the Tennessee Titans for a seventh-round draft pick.

The defensive tackle has started 137 of 139 games played, though injuries kept him out of three games over the past two seasons. He had five sacks and a team-high 30 quarterback pressures in 2019, but he is due to make $11.2 million this season and is under contract through 2022, with a salary that rises in the final two years.

The Seattle Seahawks are bringing back former first-round pick Bruce Irvin.

Irvin had a career-high eight sacks and 16 quarterback hits last season in just 13 games during his one year with Carolina. Both those totals would have led Seattle. He also made stops with Oakland and Atlanta after leaving Seattle following the 2015 season.


Irvin, 32, was a first-round pick of the Seahawks in 2012.

The Seahawks also added a potential starting right tackle, agreeing to an $11 million, two-year deal with Brandon Shell.

Shell started 25 games over the past two seasons for the Jets and played almost exclusively at right tackle.

The Arizona Cardinals agreed to a three-year deal with linebacker Devon Kennard.

Kennard played the past two years with the Detroit Lions, including all 16 games last season, when he tied a career high with seven sacks.

The Minnesota Vikings have terminated the contract of starting right guard Josh Kline after just one season.


The Vikings will save about $1.5 million in salary-cap charges, but they’ll have to carry forward about $4.5 million in dead money.

Kline, who began his career with New England, started 15 of 18 games last season, including two in the playoffs. He missed two games because of a concussion and one because of a foot injury.

A person with knowledge of the deal says left tackle Andrew Whitworth, 38, has agreed to a three-year deal to return to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Rams also re-signed versatile lineman Austin Blythe to a one-year deal, and agreed to a one-year, $10-million contract with pass-rushing linebacker Leonard Floyd, who previously played for the Bears.

Chris Harris Jr. is remaining in the AFC West after agreeing to a contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Harris Jr. has spent the past nine seasons with the Denver Broncos and has made four Pro Bowl appearances. He built his reputation as one of the top slot corners in the league, but played exclusively on the outside last season.


A person familiar with the deal says the Atlanta Falcons have agreed to sign former Rams outside linebacker Dante Fowler.

The three-year, $48 million deal reunites Fowler with Falcons Coach Dan Quinn. Fowler was a freshman at the University of Florida in 2012, when Quinn was the Gators’ defensive coordinator.

Fowler set a career high with 11 1/2 sacks in 2019.

The Raiders officially declined their option to play the 2020 season in Oakland and remain set to begin play in Las Vegas this season.

A person familiar with the team’s plans said the Raiders notified officials in Oakland and Alameda County that they won’t exercise an option that would have allowed them to play this season at the Coliseum in case the new stadium in Las Vegas wasn’t completed on time.

Cornerback Eli Apple has agreed to a contract with the Raiders.


Apple was the 10th overall pick by the Giants in 2016 before being traded to New Orleans midway through the 2018 season. He has three interceptions and 33 passes defensed in 55 games.

Washington is signing safety Sean Davis to a one-year contract that can be worth up to $5 million.

Davis had 247 tackles and five interceptions in 48 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers since they drafted him in the second round in 2016.

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph agreed to a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Two people familiar with the deal tell The Associated Press that Joseph’s contract is for $17 million but could go as high as $19 million with incentives.

Joseph will be entering his 11th season. He spent the past six years with the Minnesota Vikings but was released last week in a salary cap move.


The New York Jets are re-signing cornerback Brian Poole to a one-year, $5 million fully guaranteed contract.

Poole was the Jets’ best cornerback last season in Gregg Williams’ defense, playing in the nickel spot. He had 62 tackles, one interception he returned 15 yards for a touchdown, six passes defensed and a forced fumble in 14 games, with 10 starts.

The Panthers released safety Eric Reid, just 13 months after giving him a three-year contract extension.

The Green Bay Packers are extending the deadline for season ticket holders to pay for their 2020 tickets to June 1 to allow them more time to deal with any potential impact from the coronavirus.

The previous deadline was March 31.

A person familiar with the transaction says former Arizona defensive lineman Rodney Gunter has agreed to a three-year contract worth $18 million with Jacksonville.

The Cleveland Browns have a contract agreement with linebacker B.J. Goodson.

The 6-foot-1, 243-pound Goodson started nine games last season for Green Bay. He played the previous three seasons with the New York Giants.

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