BOSTON (AP) — For a while now, Chris Hogan has had some sort of connection with the New England Patriots.
As a four-year lacrosse player at Penn State, Hogan once played opposite Patriots assistant Steve Belichick, son of coach Bill Belichick.
Then following stints on the practice squads of the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, the former undrafted free agent was a second-year receiver with Buffalo in 2014 when he caught his first career NFL touchdown late during a Bills loss to New England.
It’s why the 27-year-old said Monday that leaving Buffalo after three seasons to sign with an AFC East rival still feels ‘‘surreal.’’
‘‘I’ve always looked up to watching them play,’’ Hogan said. ‘‘They’ve been a team that’s had a long history of winning, and just to be considered to be part of this team is a great honor. I’m still letting it all sink in because this is an awesome opportunity for me.’’
A person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Friday night that the Bills won’t match the three-year, $12 million offer sheet receiver Chris Hogan signed with New England earlier in the day. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have not announced their decision. Hogan was a restricted free agent, the Bills had an opportunity to match the offer, but that was considered difficult for Buffalo because it has little salary cap remaining.
A second person, who is familiar with New England’s offer, told The AP that the deal was structured so that Hogan’s contract would count $5.5 million against the payroll this season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms were not announced publicly. That made Buffalo’s attempts to retain the 27-year-old former undrafted free agent even more financially difficult.
The Bills were projected to have just under $5 million of cap space left after re-signing starting left guard Richie Incognito, and after starting left tackle Cordy Glenn signed his franchise offer.
For New England, the addition of Hogan helps to stabilize a receiving corps that was battered by injuries throughout 2015. Those bitten by the injury bug included some of quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite targets in Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
He said getting to know Brady will be a priority for him the rest of the offseason.
‘‘I know that communication is huge in this league, and especially with Tom,’’ Hogan said. ‘‘I’m looking forward to getting in the building and being around the guys, getting to know the guys and getting to know Tom. It’s all very exciting for me.’’
Last season with Buffalo, Hogan played in 16 games with four starts, and caught 36 passes for 450 yards and two touchdowns.
He also has value on special teams, which Hogan said he would be interested in contributing to on his new team.
‘‘Special teams has always been a part of me as a player and I’ve always taken a lot of pride in playing special teams because that’s really how I made my first roster,’’ he said. ‘‘Hopefully coming in and playing for the Patriots I’m able to contribute a lot on special teams and I hope I can just whether if that’s where they need me then I’m more than willing to play on special teams.’’
Hogan’s rise from undrafted free agent to practice squad player to a roster spot seems to fit the workman path that Belichick has lauded in other players in the past.
But Hogan shrugged off the notion that he is ‘‘prototypical Patriots’’ player.
‘‘I know I’m coming to this team to help this team win in any way possible,’’ Hogan said. ‘‘I’ll do whatever it takes to get on the field, and whatever is asked of me and whatever is needed of me — I’m willing to do any and everything to help this team win. I hope that I’m able to do that.’’
Where the Patriots called home before Gillette