According to a league source, the Patriots have reached a deal with third-round pick Brandon Tate.
It is for four years with a $755,000 signing bonus. A wide receiver/kickoff and punt returner, Tate was the first of the Patriots' two third-round picks, taken No. 83 overall. He joins Darius Butler, Rich Ohrnberger, Myron Pryor, Darryl Richard and Sebastian Vollmer as Patriots draft picks to sign with the team.
Tate slipped in the draft due to a major knee injury that truncated his senior season and a report that he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
The 6-foot, 1-inch, 195-pound Tate displayed explosive play-making ability during his four season at the University of North Carolina. Tate set an NCAA record for combined kickoff and punt return yardage with 3,523 yards -- breaking the mark of former Patriots cornerback Deltha O'Neal -- despite missing the final seven games of his senior seasons after he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee.
He is one of only nine players in NCAA history to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same game and he holds the Carolina records for career kickoff and punt returns for scores (six) and single-season combined kickoff and punt TDs (three).
In six games last season, Tate, who played opposite New York Giants first-round pick Hakeem Nicks, had 16 receptions for 376 yards (23.5 yards per reception) and three touchdowns. For his career at Carolina, he averaged 20.2 yards per reception on 46 catches.
Tate also ran the ball 11 times last year for 143 yards and a score, a 54-yard touchdown against Miami.
Tate is still recovering from his knee injury and did not participate in the off-season practices that were open to the media. He had surgery on Oct. 15 and could start the season on injured reserve.
Tate has only addressed the report of his positive drug test at the combine by saying "I know I made a mistake."
According to the NFL's substance abuse policy, draft-eligible players who test positive during the combine are eligible to enter the league's substance abuse program, as recommended by the league's medical adviser. While it is not automatic, most, if not all, first-time offenders end up in the program.