Patriots

Patriots signing TE Matt LaCosse, DT Mike Pennel

Patriots signing TE Matt LaCosse, DT Mike Pennel

The Patriots were relatively quiet on the first day of free agency, but that hasn't been the case on Thursday.

New England followed up their signings of wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris by agreeing to terms with tight end Matt LaCosse and defensive tackle Mike Pennel, per ESPN's Field Yates.

LaCosse spent 2018 with the Denver Broncos, tallying 24 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown. The 26-year-old adds depth at the tight end position especially if Rob Gronkowski opts to sit out or retire. His deal reportedly is for two years and up to $4.8 million.

Pennel is expected to replace Malcom Brown, who signed with the New Orleans Saints earlier on Thursday. The 6-foot-4, 332-pounder notched 27 tackles with the Jets last year.

Phil Perry identified Pennel as a potential Patriots target weeks ago. Read Phil's story, and what Bill Belichick had to say about Pennel.

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Ian Rapoport: Patriots not counting on Josh Gordon but 'would certainly welcome him back'

Ian Rapoport: Patriots not counting on Josh Gordon but 'would certainly welcome him back'

Josh Gordon is still a member of the New England Patriots, but he is currently suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating their substance abuse policy. And per usual, few know exactly if and when he'll have a chance to return to the field.

In a recent appearance on WEEI's Dale & Keefe Show, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was asked about the potential return of Gordon to the Patriots. Rapoport indicated that he wasn't sure about Gordon being reinstated but said that while the talented but troubled receiver is not a guy the Patriots are counting on, they "would certainly welcome him back" if reinstated.

Josh Gordon, I don't know. I know that for the Patriots, it's not something that they're talking about every day. It's not a guy who's in their plans right now. I think that they would certainly welcome him back if he showed that he's going to be a better version -- as a person, I'm talking about -- a better version of the one they got last year. I just don't know that he's actually going to get reinstated, prove to the Patriots that he has turned the corner, that he's a different person, show that he's in the right frame of mind.

As always with Josh Gordon, the talent is incredible. We've seen probably one-tenth of it, honestly. But there's always so much that goes into it. I think the Patriots know better than to say this is a guy we're counting on for next season.

Rapoport is right that the Patriots aren't counting on Gordon, but they could certainly use him to add talent to their receiving corps.

At the moment, the Patriots are a bit thinner than usual in terms of receiving weapons. Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman and first-round pick N'Keal Harry should be the two of the top pass catchers, but aside from that, the team has a handful of veterans fighting for spots in the pecking order. And at tight end, the team is missing Rob Gronkowski and doesn't have a suitable replacement for him.

If Gordon could somehow get reinstated, he would help the team out and give them a true No. 1 receiver. After all, he did have 40 catches for 720 yards and three scores in just 11 games with the Patriots in 2018. And with more time to build chemistry with Tom Brady, he could be even better.

Gordon's status may become a hot-button issue in the next week, especially in the wake of the NFL's decision not to suspended Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill at all despite allegations of child abuse. But for the time being, Gordon will remain suspended and it's unclear exactly what his chances of being reinstated are.

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Former Patriots offensive lineman Mitch Petrus dies at 32

Former Patriots offensive lineman Mitch Petrus dies at 32

Former New England Patriots guard Mitch Petrus died on Thursday night in Arkansas as a result of a heat-related illness, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Petrus was 32 years old.

Petrus had a brief stint with the Patriots during the 2012 season. In mid-November of that season, he was signed to provide depth on the offensive line after Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly suffered injuries. He appeared in two games for the squad and served mostly as a depth before being waived by the team in December. That season was Petrus' last in the NFL.

Petrus was drafted by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft after playing collegiately at Arkansas and showcasing his excellent strength in the pre-draft process. Petrus put up 45 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Combine. At the time, it was tied for second-most all-time and currently stands as the third-most in combine history.

In Petrus' second year in the league, he started a career-high three games for the Giants and was a part of their roster for the whole season. He was active for the Giants' four postseason games including the team's 21-17 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl 46.

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