The Patriots are welcoming back another familiar face to their offensive line after a league source confirmed Wednesday the team struck a deal with Ted Karras.
One of New England’s three sixth-round picks in 2016, Karras has played the bulk of his pro career at center after playing exclusively at guard at Illinois.
He provided valuable depth along the interior during his original stint in Foxborough, starting several times in place of David Andrews. Karras’s most memorable stint came in 2019 when he started 15 games at center as Andrews was forced to sit out because of blood clots in his lungs.
Coincidentally, Karras may again be replacing Andrews, who is testing the free agent market. It’s also possible the players could be swapping teams as the Miami Herald is reporting Andrews is the Dolphins’ top target to slide into the center spot.
A two-time Super Bowl champion, Karras received a one-year contract worth $4 million. He started every game at center for the Dolphins last season and played 100 percent of the offensive snaps. He wasn’t flagged for holding the entire season.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound Karras was one of three Patriots who signed with the Dolphins after the 2019 season as coach Brian Flores, a longtime New England staffer, tried to mold his team in the shape of his former organization.
Karras, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts also signed with Miami, and all three were named captains for the 2020 season. Only Roberts remains with the Dolphins after Van Noy was released last week as a salary-cap casualty.
Adding Karras is the latest move as the Patriots’ offensive line, one of the club’s strengths last season, undergoes a significant makeover.
New England added Trent Brown, who played left tackle brilliantly for the Patriots in 2018, in a trade with the Raiders last week. Joe Thuney, a stalwart at left guard the last five seasons, agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal with the Chiefs earlier this week.
While losing Thuney and possibly losing Andrews stings, the Patriots were able to fill those holes with players that are familiar with the organization and with the offense’s multiple schemes.
The revamped line could feature Isaiah Wynn at left tackle, Mike Onwenu at left guard, Karras at center, Shaq Mason at right guard, and Brown at right tackle.
The club also has added tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry this week. Both are considered above-average blockers.
One of the most popular and accessible players in the locker room during his time in Foxborough, Karras consistently improved every season, and Bill Belichick touched on his character and development late in the 2019 season.
“Ted’s been a solid guy for us since he’s been here, one of the most consistent players probably on our team,’’ the coach said. “Comes to work with the same great attitude every day, works hard, whatever you ask him to do — weight room, classroom, walkthroughs, practice, scout team. He always works hard, he’s always ready to go, he always gives his best. Tries hard to improve, has improved. He’s just a very consistent, hard-working, lunch-pail kind of guy, and really consistent. Gotten incrementally better through the course of time, but he’s been consistent for four years.’’
Karras also adds special teams value as he’s been employed as a protector on field goals and extra points and likely will resume those roles.
The only other center on the New England roster is veteran Marcus Martin, who was signed before the Week 17 win over the Jets and has not played in a regular-season game since 2016.
The Patriots likely will continue to build depth and competition at the position with another veteran and through the draft.