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Patriots grow a little deeper

Wright stays on; Galloway agrees

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / March 15, 2009
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With the contracts of defensive end Richard Seymour and nose tackle Vince Wilfork up after the 2009 season, the Patriots couldn't afford to lose defensive lineman Mike Wright to free agency, from a depth standpoint.

It turned out that they could afford to keep him, from a monetary standpoint.

Wright, who can play end and nose in New England's 3-4 defense, remained with the Patriots yesterday, agreeing to a four-year deal worth about $7.5 million, according to a source with knowledge of the Patriots' thinking.

The contract includes approximately $10 million in playing-time escalators.

Wright, who joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati in 2005, was their highest-profile remaining free agent. He drew serious interest from Denver and Arizona, but decided to stay with New England.

That's good for the Patriots considering that their other primary reserve defensive end, Jarvis Green, is also entering the last year of his deal.

Wright, who also plays on special teams, has proven a versatile backup. Last season, he played in all 16 games and made two starts, filling in at defensive end for Ty Warren, who was dealing with a torn adductor muscle in his groin.

When Wilfork was forced to leave the Patriots' 24-21 win at Seattle, Wright logged time at both defense end and nose tackle.

Wright, who turned 27 March 1, finished last season with 33 tackles, according to coaches' film review, and recorded a career-high 2 1/2 sacks, after entering the season with 1 1/2 sacks in his three previous seasons. He also forced a pair of fumbles.

Wright joins James Sanders, who signed a three-year, $9 million deal this month, as defenders who opted to re-up with the Patriots.

Wright was not the only player with Ohio college football roots to reach a deal with the Patriots yesterday. The team reached a one-year deal with former Tampa Bay wide receiver and Ohio State star Joey Galloway, according to his agent, Shawn Trell.

Galloway, 37, was released by Tampa Feb. 25 and visited the Patriots March 4. He also had visits with Buffalo and Pittsburgh, which, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hosted Galloway last Monday.

The speedy Galloway was the eighth overall pick in the 1995 draft by Seattle - one pick after BC's Mike Mamula - and played five years with the Seahawks, four with the Cowboys, and the last five with the Bucs.

Galloway had three straight 1,000-yard seasons for the Bucs from 2005-07, averaging 16.6 yards per reception and scoring 23 touchdowns in that time.

However, last year Galloway was limited to nine games (13 catches, 138 yards, 0 TDs) after he broke two bones in his foot.

"The ankle injury suffered last year is behind him," said Trell. "The Patriots would not have made this move if they didn't believe the same. The fact is that at the end of last season Joey remained the fastest player on the Buccaneers. . . . He's excited about the many different opportunities afforded him by playing for this franchise and coach, as well as with Tom Brady and the wide receivers already on their roster."

Galloway would give the Patriots another option at No. 3 receiver, replacing Jabar Gaffney, who departed for Denver.

The Patriots already acquired Greg Lewis via trade with Philadelphia this month.

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