The Patriots added another depth piece on the roster Saturday, re-signing defensive tackle Alan Branch, according to his agent. The deal is reportedly worth a maximum of $6.6 million over two years.
Branch, 30, was a solid midseason addition for the Patriots last year, and can help fill the void created by the departure of Vince Wilfork.
Listed at 6 feet 6 inches and 325 pounds, Branch signed with the Patriots in November and played about 20-25 snaps per game over the final 11 games of the season.
He had 20 tackles and a pass defended, and was solid in run defense.
Branch has eight career sacks in an eight-year career with the Cardinals, Seahawks, Bills, and Patriots.
Branch joins Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga, and Dominique Easley as players on the defensive interior. There’s an outside chance Wilfork could return to New England, but he’s already drawing heavy interest from several teams, including the Texans and Colts.
The Patriots still haven’t made any big moves in free agency to counter the losses of Wilfork, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Browner, but have added a handful of depth players since free agency began last Tuesday, including pass rusher Jabaal Sheard, tight end Scott Chandler, and receiver Brandon Gibson.
The Patriots are still looking for a running back to replace Shane Vereen after Reggie Bush, who visited the Patriots on Friday, signed with the 49ers on Saturday.
And the Patriots are apparently still looking at wide receivers to compete for a roster spot; they will be hosting former Bills and 49ers receiver Stevie Johnson on Monday, according to multiple reports.
The Patriots have Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Danny Amendola locked in for next season, and should have a host of players competing for the other two spots, including Aaron Dobson, Brian Tyms, Josh Boyce, Jonathan Krause, Greg Orton, and newly-signed Kevin Dorsey.
Vikings cut Jennings
The Vikings released wide receiver Greg Jennings, roughly 18 hours after their trade with Miami for Mike Wallace was finalized. Jennings would have counted $11 million against their salary cap this season, so after two unremarkable years with the team he was the latest veteran around the league with a big contract to be let go with less than half of the contract length fulfilled.
Wallace, 28, likely would have found himself in that situation with Miami, had the Dolphins not dealt him and a seventh-round draft pick for a fifth-round selection from the Vikings.
He brought a $9.9 million salary-cap hit for 2015, after playing the last two seasons for the Dolphins on a five-year contract worth as much as $60 million with $30 million guaranteed. However, the Vikings could cut him in 2016 without any cap hit or future financial obligation. Wallace, in a conference call with reporters, said his deal has not been redone.
His outlook on coming to Minnesota has changed after two disappointing seasons with the Dolphins.
The Vikings pursued him in 2013 before signing Jennings when Wallace went with Miami, and Wallace said Saturday that his decision was based largely on the weather.
‘‘Palm trees versus trees with no leaves, you know?’’ Wallace said.
‘‘And that was then. This was now. I'm excited to be here.’’
He said this on a sunny afternoon with the temperature near 60 degrees in Minneapolis, the type of spring conditions that are often in short supply in Minnesota.
‘‘I kind of feel like everybody is trying to trick me and get me to think the weather is nice,’’ Wallace said. ‘‘One of my good friends, Jamarca Sanford, played here. So he told me about the weather. He told me the weather’s not the best, but the people are great.’’
The Vikings have one more season outdoors at their temporary home at the University of Minnesota before moving into their new fully covered stadium downtown.
‘‘Mike’s not going to be outside alone. So as long as I look at somebody else and they freezing their tail off, I think I'll be fine,’’ Wallace said.
Wallace was benched by Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in the second half of their final game last season after an argument between the receiver and the coaching staff. Wallace led the Dolphins with 10 touchdowns in 2014, but he rarely clicked with quarterback Ryan Tannehill on long passes and was unhappy he wasn’t targeted more.
Wallace used the words ‘‘fresh start’’ often in his interview on Saturday.
‘‘I wish things could've ended better, but that’s life,’’ Wallace said.
Jennings led the Vikings last season with 742 yards and six touchdowns. The $45 million, five-year contract he signed in 2013 came with nearly $18 million guaranteed, and a $6 million salary-cap hit in dead money for 2015 after his release. But the Vikings have the option to designate Jennings as a post-June 1 release, a tool teams can use to spread out the cap hits of a recently released player over multiple seasons. That would save the Vikings another $4 million under their cap for 2015, after June 1.
The Vikings also wrapped up a visit with defensive end Michael Johnson, who left town without a contract. He’s considering returning to the Bengals.
KC locks up Parker
Defensive back Ron Parker proved his versatility for the Chiefs last season. On Saturday, he was rewarded for it. The Chiefs and Parker agreed on a five-year, $30 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told the AP . . . Cornerback Perrish Cox agreed to a three-year contract, giving Tennessee a much-needed veteran in the secondary. Cox, 28, spent the past two seasons in his second stint with San Francisco, and is coming off his best year. The four-year veteran started 14 games and intercepted five passes while also having 53 tackles.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.