Patriots sign Leon Washington

Looking to improve their poor kickoff return unit, the Patriots on Thursday signed former Seahawks and Jets running back Leon Washington to a one-year contract.

Washington (5-8, 203 pounds) shares the NFL record with Josh Cribbs (Cleveland free agent) with eight career kickoff returns for touchdowns. Washington went to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and ’12 and earned All-Pro honors in ’07, ’08 and ’10.

Washington, 30, finished last season averaging 29.0 yards per kickoff (second in the league). The Patriots finished 25th as a team (21.2 yards).

Washington has returned 168 punts for a 9.9-yard average in his career.

Analysis: Wouldn’t try to overanalyze what many of these one-year signings mean in the big picture. The Patriots are going to bring in good football players to compete, and whoever wins the job in training camp and stays healthy will win out. So that means Jeff Demps, Danny Woodhead, Washington, and any other elfish running back still on the market could be on the roster heading into training camp. If anything, I think this puts a little more pressure on Demps since he wants to try to participate in both track and football this spring. Doubt the Patriots are thrilled about that.

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