The Patriots continue to make smaller under-the-radar moves as they re-tool their team in the wake of Tom Brady‘s departure. New England is signing fullback Dan Vitale, his agent Chris Cabbott told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).
Bill Belichick and the Pats like to use fullbacks a lot, so this is a significant move. This also could spell the end of the road for James Develin. The longtime Patriots fullback signed with New England back in 2012 and has been its full-time fullback since 2013. He was limited to only two games in 2019 because of a neck injury, and his absence had a big impact on New England's running game.
We haven’t heard much about him since, and it’s possible that his neck injury is going to prevent him from playing. Either way, it looks like the Pats will be moving forward with Vitale.
Vitale spent last year as the Packers’ fullback, catching seven passes for 97 yards while playing about 16 percent of the offensive snaps. In 2018, Develin was used on more than 35 percent of New England’s snaps.
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Hint: For those who need a refresher, these are the seven teams Tom Brady and the Patriots played in their nine Super Bowls: St. Louis Rams (XXXVI), Carolina Panthers (XXXVIII), Los Angeles Rams (LIII), Philadelphia Eagles (XXXIX & LII), New York Giants (XLII & XLVI), Seattle Seahawks (XLIX) and Atlanta Falcons (LI).