June 19, 2024

New England Patriots have concluded contract with Trio-free agents as Josh Uche return to the squad

The Patriots continue to build their roster for next season.

The team is opting to bring back linebacker/special teamer Christian Elliss, who was an exclusive rights free agent. The Patriots announced the signing of Elliss, along with quarterback Nathan Rourke and offensive tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

The Patriots claimed Elliss, 25, off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 6. After coming to the Patriots, he appeared in four games, making two tackles. Every snap Elliss played in New England was on special teams.

The linebacker was released after the Eagles signed veteran Shaquille Leonard. Elliss played linebacker and special teams for Philadelphia, playing in 12 games, making one start, and collecting 21 tackles. Elliss flashed as an athletic linebacker in Philadelphia. In his one start, he made six tackles against San Francisco. The week before, against Buffalo, he made a career-high seven tackles.

Patriots claim former Jaguars QB Nathan Rourke off waivers

Rourke was claimed off waivers by the Patriots on Dec. 6 after spending time on the Jacksonville Jaguars active roster. He spent one game, their regular-season finale, as the Patriots backup quarterback to Bailey Zappe. Rourke went undrafted out of Ohio University and then he excelled in the CFL for the BC Lions.

In 2022, Rourke was named CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian, which is given to the best Canadian player in the CFL. That year, he threw 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The team acquired Wheatley, 27, in a trade with Cleveland last season in exchange for running back Pierre Strong Jr. He appeared in two games before being placed on the injured reserve on Oct. 14 with a knee injury.

Receiver Tre Nixon was also an exclusive rights free agent, but the Patriots didn’t announce that they picked up his option. That’ll likely make him a free agent.

Nixon, 27, was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round in 2021. At the time, Bill Belichick said he allowed Ernie Adams to make the pick since Adams was retiring after the draft. Nixon spent his first two NFL seasons on the Patriots practice squad. Last year, he spent the season on the injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury in the preseason.

Patriots Bring Back Josh Uche

Despite reports that Josh Uche had not received an offer from the Patriots ahead of free agency, that all ended up being a moot point on Tuesday.

Josh Uche on extension with Patriots: 'I would love to be here'

CBS Sports reporter Jonathan Jones reported this afternoon that the Patriots have agreed to terms on a one-year deal for Uche, which will keep the former Michigan standout on New England’s roster for the 2024 season.

Uche had previously expressed an interest in staying in New England, although he was ready to test the free agent waters.  The two sides didn’t appear close to preventing him from potentially moving on, and many wondered if he would, indeed be back this off-season.

Fortunately, he instead becomes the first Patriots early-round pick to sign a contract extension with the team since Duron Harmon, ending what had been a long drought.

His return is also good news for Jerod Mayo’s defense, with Uche bolstering New England’s pass rush, while providing depth to a group that was among the best in the league in multiple categories over the course of last season.

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