Originally posted on Patriots Extra  |  Last updated 3/16/12

While it may not be the big splash Patriots fans were hoping for, Bill Belichick appears to have found a new starting safety in six-year veteran Steve Gregory. 

The former Charger brings starting experience, versatility and athleticism to a cripplingly-bad group of safeties from 2011. 

In 15 games, Gregory recorded 67 tackles and a pick. His best season came in 2009 when he posted 71 tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception and six passes defended. 

Reports have stated that Gregory should be a candidate to start at free safety next to Pat Chung. He also has the capability of playing slot corner and is regarded as a strong special teams player. 

According to reports, he signed a three-year, $8.5 million contract with $3.35 million guaranteed. 

In addition to Gregory, the Patriots re-signed one of their own, bringing back center/guard Dan Connolly. Terms of the deal have not been released, but his return would probably mean an end of an era for Dan Koppen. The longtime starting center missed most of last season with an ankle injury and is an unrestricted free agent. 

The Pats also re-signed Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater and linebacker Tracy White earlier in the week, and added versatile defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene to bolster their depth. Fanene recorded 6.5 sacks last season for the Bengals and is regarded for his motor and versatility. 

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