The clearest sign yet that Patriots left tackle Matt Light has played his final down came Tuesday, when according to a league source with access to the NFL transaction wire, New England placed him on the reserve/retired list.
There was no formal announcement that the 33-year old had decided to retire; Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted that Light was out of town and that there would be a news conference when he returns.
Light was in Boston last week for a charity event but said he had been spending all of his time in his native Ohio and didn’t know that the Patriots officially had started their offseason workout program. Even then, he remained coy about his plans for the 2012 season.
A second-round draft pick in 2001 out of Purdue, Light played in 14 games, with 12 starts, in his rookie year and started all three postseason games.
He remained there every season since, racking up 155 games.
At 6 feet 4 inches, 305 pounds, Light is a bit undersized compared with left tackles being drafted today, but he used the technique honed over a decade under offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to great effect. Light was a three-time Pro Bowler (2006, ’07, ’10) and a first-team All-Pro in 2007.
His retirement means that there is now but one member of the current Patriots roster who was a member of all three of the team’s Super Bowl wins: Tom Brady, the man Light protected for more than a decade.
The question was simple enough. So was Will Allen’s answer.
Why did a 33-year-old cornerback, closer to the end of an NFL career than the beginning, want to come to New England having to compete for a job?
“This team wins,’’ Allen said Tuesday in Foxborough as he continued to get acquainted with his new surroundings at Gillette Stadium. “We play football because we love it. But first and foremost, and most importantly, we play because we want to win. This place has a reputation for winning ballgames.’’
Allen’s career began with the Giants in 2001, and he spent the last five seasons with the Dolphins. He signed a one-year free agent deal that will pay him a base salary of $975,000, a $25,000 signing bonus, and a $25,000 workout bonus.
Allen almost was a Patriot last fall after the Dolphins released him. “I was close,’’ he said.
Allen will be competing for a roster spot with younger players such as Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, and Sterling Moore.
Playing with the Patriots rather than against them appealed to Allen. “They have one of the best offenses in the league, put a ton of points on the board, and throw the ball all over the place,’’ he said.
About Brady, Allen said, “I’m excited to be on his side. I faced Tom quite a few times. To be a teammate of his, I’m grateful for that.’’
Branch settles in
While Allen was introducing himself to teammates, wide receiver Deion Branch was settling back into a familiar role. Branch, 32, who has had two stints with the Patriots, tested the free agent market over the winter, but he realized that re-signing with the Patriots was his best option.
He signed a one-year deal worth approximately $3.25 million.
Branch was at Gillette working out, but his immediate focus was on raising funds for his foundation, which aids youngsters such as his son, Deiondre Branch, who was diagnosed with viral meningitis as an infant and has survived for the past 11 years - after receiving an early prognosis that was much grimmer.
Branch will run in the Kentucky Derby Festival Half-Marathon Saturday as part of a program to raise $25,000 for the foundation and other programs. The Branch family said it will match all funds raised (for information go to deionbranchfoundation.org).
Branch talked about his son. “Although he cannot walk nor talk, he’s full of life and is constantly smiling and that is what really matters,’’ said Branch, who said approximately $27,000 already has been raised.
“People ask me how it relates to football. Football can last only so long. This is my son. He was given six months to live; he turned 11 last Tuesday. It’s a blessing.’’