Center Ted Karras played in Miami and celebrated a win over New England on Dec. 20. Karras is back with the Patriots on a one-year deal. Doug Murray/Associated Press

The Patriots have agreed to sign free agent center Ted Karras to a one-year, $4 million contract, reuniting him with the franchise where he began his NFL career, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person spoke under the condition of anonymity because the deal is pending a physical and has not been announced. NFL Network was first to report the agreement.

Karras previously spent four seasons in New England after being drafted by the Patriots in 2016, winning two Super Bowl rings as a utility offensive lineman and backup center to David Andrews. He stepped into the starting role in 2019 when Andrews was on injured reserve because of blood clots in his lungs.

Karras signed with Miami following the 2019 season and started all 16 games for the Dolphins in 2020.

This new agreement with Karras could be an indication the Patriots have decided to move on from Andrews, who is a free agent after starting 69 games at center for New England since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2015.

Karras is the second former Patriots offensive lineman to return to New England during free agency. They swapped draft picks with the Raiders last week to acquire tackle Trent Brown, who reworked his contract to a one-year deal worth as much as $11 million.

JONNU SMITH is now with the Patriots after signing as a free agent to a $50 million deal (with $30 million guaranteed), the most Coach Bill Belichick has ever paid a pass catcher.

Smith, a 25-year-old tight end, appeared Wednesday on NFL Network, and it was easy to see why Belichick saw him as a fit in Foxborough. Smith was asked what Patriots fans are getting, and he didn’t hold back.

“They’re definitely getting the hardest worker that’s ever came through Gillette Stadium,” Smith replied. “That’s just what I believe in. That’s all I know. I was never the highest recruited high school player. Never labelled the best tight end in college. That’s what kept me going.

“I feel like I am the most versatile tight end in this league. That’s really not up for other people to tell me I am not. I know what I can do. I know what I can do once the ball is in my hands. There’s no tight end in the league better than me at that.”

When asked what caused him to sign with New England so quickly, Smith pointed to the confidence Belichick voiced in his game.

“Coach Belichick seen it. He had a certain belief in me,” Smith said. “I’ve got all the respect in the world for him. … I’m extremely blessed and I’m excited for the opportunity, man.”

THE PATRIOTS will place a second-round tender on cornerback J.C. Jackson, according to multiple reports.

Jackson, 25, is a restricted free agent. There are now three scenarios that could play out – Jackson plays in New England on the one-year tender, signs an extension with the Patriots, or signs an extension with another team.

In the event Jackson signs with another team, the Patriots have the option of matching the contract. If they don’t match the offer sheet, that team would give up a second-round pick to the Patriots. If Jackson plays the year out on the tender, he’ll earn $3.384 million in 2021 and then become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

The cornerback finished with a career-high nine interceptions last season, ranking second in the NFL, as well as 14 passes defended. His 11 takeaways (nine interceptions and two fumbles) were the second most in franchise history and the most in the Bill Belichick-era.

He came to the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has 17 interceptions in three NFL seasons.


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