Linebacker Paris Lenon has agreed to contract terms to join the Patriots, his agent said.
"Paris is excited to finally be a part of a winning organization and eager to contribute in whatever way Coach Belichick and his staff see fit. Now, quite simply, he's eager to go to work," Jon Persch of Allegiant Management told the Globe this morning.
Lenon (6-2, 235) adds depth to the Patriots' inside linebacker corps. The unit was thinned after third-round draft choice Tyrone McKenzie tore his ACL in rookie minicamp, which will sideline him for the season. The Patriots had also waived 2008 sixth-round draft choice Bo Ruud earlier in the offseason.
Lenon enters his eighth NFL season and leaves the NFC North for the first time, as he's played for the Packers (2002-2005) and Lions (2006-2008). He was the leading tackler on last year's winless Lions squad, playing middle linebacker in a 4-3 alignment.
In New England, the 31-year-old Lenon will be making a switch to a 3-4 scheme. His performance on special teams also figures to be a factor in earning a roster spot.
The Patriots return Jerod Mayo (2nd year) and Tedy Bruschi (14th year) as starters at inside linebacker, with Gary Guyton (2nd year) the top backup. Antonio Appleby, Eric Alexander and Vinny Ciurciu round out the depth chart. Lenon could challenge for playing time next to Mayo, pushing Bruschi and Guyton.
The agreement with Lenon likely takes the Patriots out of the mix for Pisa Tinoisamoa, a free agent who visited with the club Tuesday. Lenon was one of the top inside linebackers available on the free-agent market.