Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reports:
The New England Patriots have announced a slew of transactions via an e-mail circulated moments ago.
Free-agent center Al Johnson has joined the team after spending the last month of 2008 with the Dolphins.
Also, four players have re-signed with the Pats: offensive lineman Wesley Britt, safety Ray Ventrone, safety Tank Williams, and defensive lineman Mike Wright.
Johnson was drafted by the Cowboys in 2003. He missed his rookie season due to an injury, but then started 15 games in 2004 and 16 in 2005.
After losing the starting job to Andre Gurode in 2006, Johnson signed with the Cardinals in 2007. He started 14 games in his first season with the team.
The Cardinals released Johnson from injured reserve in October 2008, and he signed with the Dolphins on November 29.
Al Johnson could become a key role player along the line for the Patriots in 2009 as he brings a good amount of experience and skill to the table. However, unless he can play multiple positions on the line, he shouldn’t be considered a lock to make the team.
Of the four players re-signed, the two big names are Tank Williams and Mike Wright. After being signed in Spring 2008, Tank Williams was having a strong pre-season and looked to be the fourth safety for the Patriots, before he went down with a season ending injury. Williams was actually playing inside linebacker at times, so if he is healthy for 2009, he could be a key role player. This signing could mean that Rodney Harrison is leaning towards retirement.
Mike Wright has been a nice role player for the Patriots along the defensive line since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005. Last year, Wright recorded 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Wright can play both defensive end and nose tackle. With Richard Seymour, Jarvis Green, and Vince Wilfork all expiring after 2009, the Pats may look for Wright to become the “4th man” along the line. Yesterday, ESPN first reported that the deal was 4 years at $7.5 million. Escalators and playing time incentives could push it up to another $10 million.
Wesley Britt is a massive 6-8, 320 pounds and has been with the Patriots for three years, playing in 16 games with two starts. Ray Ventrone, a hybrid safety/receiver and key special teams contributor, was an exclusive rights free agent.