After nearly two weeks as a free agent, Sebastian Vollmer re-signed with the Patriots on Monday, agreeing to a four-year deal worth $17 million minimum.
The 28-year old was a second-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2009 after a successful career at the University of Houston, though he was regarded as an under-the-radar guy because he wasn’t invited to the combine or any of the showcase games that kick off the pre-draft season.
But he has become a valued played in New England, and the only one of the four players the Patriots took in the second round in ’09 who is still with the team.
On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, he talked about why he wanted to stay around.
“Overall I’m just happy to be here, this is the place I wanted to be and luckily I’m still here and I think ‘thankful’ would describe it most,” Vollmer said. “Thankful for Mr. Kraft and his family and coach (Bill Belichick) and whoever else was involved. They gave me the opportunity and I want to continue to prove myself and I’m excited and happy to be here.”
Asked if he had taken any free-agent visits with other teams, Vollmer said that didn’t matter and that he knew he wanted to be with the Patriots.
There were two things that stuck out as likely reasons Vollmer wanted to stay: an allegiance to the team that drafted him and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
“I think a lot of things (are factors in wanting to stay) – I mean, just being drafted here out of Houston four years ago, I certainly haven’t forgotten that,” he said. “And the whole tradition of winning and the coaches that are here, the players you’re with, you know what you have here. I do appreciate the program and the leadership from Mr. Kraft and coach Belichick and the players we have. I really enjoy being part of this and want to continue to be part of this.”
Of Scarnecchia, regarded in some circles as the best offensive line coach in the league, Vollmer said, “I can only talk for myself, but he’s been a tremendous influence on me. Coming from a smaller program and coming to a program like the Patriots, being with Dante and learning the game under his tutelage and really focusing on technique and schemes and whatever else goes with it, I’m really grateful having him as a coach.
“All the praise goes to him and I’m happy to have a coach like him that makes me better.”
The right tackle underwent arthroscopic surgery last month on his right knee; he had just left the weight room before the conference call and declared that he’s “feeling really good.”
With Vollmer re-signed, the Patriots return the five players who started the majority of the games on the offense line. There’s value in that, Vollmer said, but sometimes guys have to miss games.
“I certainly like it; when you play next to a guy for a few years and you practice next to a guy, you get certain things down, you kind of know how the guys play certain situations and you get a feel for each other and I think that is important,” he said.
“But injuries do happen and that’s why we practice with different combinations.”
Vollmer is on his way to his native Germany in the coming days for his sister’s wedding.