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Patriots sign veteran running back Ty Montgomery to two-year deal

Ty Montgomery, 29, has played seven years in the NFL with the Packers, Ravens, Jets, and Saints.Danny Karnik/Associated Press

The Patriots signed veteran running back Ty Montgomery to a two-year deal, a league source confirmed Thursday.

Montgomery is New England’s second external signing of free agency, joining cornerback Terrance Mitchell. He held a small offensive role for the Saints last season, catching 16 passes for 95 yards and rushing for another 44.

The Packers drafted Montgomery as a wide receiver out of Stanford in the third round in 2015. His best college season was his junior year, when he logged 61 receptions for 958 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also was one of the nation’s best kickoff returners, averaging 31.2 yards per return and scoring two touchdowns.

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Soon after entering the NFL, though, Montgomery shifted his position to running back. He was Green Bay’s leading rusher in 2016, with 457 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught 44 passes for 348 yards that year, his best statistical season.

Montgomery spent 3½ years with the Packers — totaling 849 rushing yards and 827 receiving yards — before getting traded to the Ravens in 2018. He finished out the 2018 season in Baltimore, then signed with the Jets for a year.

During his stint in New York, Montgomery was used primarily on special teams, returning 18 kicks for 364 yards (20.2-yard average). He played only 14.71 percent of the offensive snaps.

In May 2020, Montgomery signed with the Saints, and he re-signed in 2021. In New Orleans, he earned praise for his special teams contributions, both as a kick returner and as a gunner on punt coverage.

“He’s a good football player,” coach Sean Payton said last September. “He can run and there’s got to be a little toughness there. I think it’s one of the harder jobs in football.”

Montgomery, who turned 29 in January, will join James White, Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and J.J. Taylor in New England’s running back room.

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Slater wasn’t going anywhere else

When Matthew Slater became an unrestricted free agent this offseason, there was only one place he would consider playing: New England.

“I wasn’t going to go anywhere else,” Slater said. “Not that my services would be sought after anywhere else, who knows. But I certainly appreciate the conversations that I had with coach [Bill Belichick] and where he saw this going. Happy it worked out.”

Slater and the Patriots agreed to a one-year, $2.62 million contract Monday, ensuring that he will continue his NFL career in the same place it began as a fifth-round draft pick in 2008. Slater, who turns 37 in September, is the longest-tenured Patriot, set to return for his 15th season.

According to Slater, the negotiations were not “very difficult.”

“We’re not negotiating an $80 million contract here,” he said. “It was nice to have a conversation with Bill about where he saw me, where he saw me moving forward, where I saw myself, and what that would look like. I appreciate Coach taking the time to sit down with me and discuss that. I’ve always appreciated Coach just for the opportunity he’s given me just to be a part of his football team. That’s something that I’ve never taken for granted.”

At the end of last season, Slater indicated he was contemplating retirement, stressing the importance of sitting down with his family to discuss their options.

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He said he ultimately decided to return for three reasons: 1. He still holds a strong love for the sport and all that it entails; 2. He recognizes the opportunities available as a result of the platform as an NFL player; and 3. The Patriots were interested in having him back.

Slater, a longtime team captain, said he consulted with teammate Devin McCourty about his plans as well. McCourty, who turns 35 in August, was also an unrestricted free agent before agreeing to a one-year, $9 million deal Monday.

“I was joking with him,” Slater said. “I said, ‘I’m not coming back unless you’re coming back.’ I realize how special it is to have a chance to play alongside a guy for 13 years and Devin’s not just anyone. He’s one of the best men I’ve ever known. He’s been a tremendous example for me to follow, on and off the football field, and, honestly, at this point in my career, it would be tough, I think, playing without him.

“There’s certain guys that you really just learn to lean on and depend on, and he’s one of those guys. I’m thankful that his situation worked out the way that it did, and mine worked out the way that it did and that we get a chance to do this one more year.”

Jim McBride of Globe staff contributed to this report.

Patriots deals so far

Signed free agent cornerback Terrance Mitchell to a one-year deal.

▪ Guard Shaq Mason was traded to Tampa Bay for a fifth-round pick.

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▪ Linebacker Chase Winovich was traded to Cleveland for linebacker Mack Wilson.

Running back James White is returning on a two-year deal.

Special teamer Matthew Slater is returning on a one-year deal.

Kicker Nick Folk is returning on a two-year deal.

▪ Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer is returning on a two-year deal.

Offensive lineman James Ferentz is returning on a one-year deal.

Safety Devin McCourty is returning on a one-year deal.

▪ A second-round tender was used on receiver Jakobi Meyers.


Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.