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Patriots acquire defensive end Kony Ealy from Panthers

Kony Ealy has appeared in 47 regular-season games.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Patriots added another player to their revamped defense Friday afternoon, acquiring defensive end Kony Ealy and a third-round pick from the Panthers for a second-round pick, according to a league source.

New England slides only eight spots with the trade, as it will be sending the 64th pick to Carolina and getting the 72nd in return.

Ealy is a 6-foot-4-inch, 275-pounder with excellent athleticism and good strength. He has 14 sacks and six forced fumbles in three seasons. His signature performance came in Super Bowl 50, where he might well have been MVP had Carolina won.


In that loss to the Broncos, Ealy sacked Peyton Manning three times and added an interception and a forced fumble on 23 snaps.

Ealy is in the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to earn $903,000 this season. He became expendable when Carolina signed veteran Julius Peppers earlier in the day. The Panthers also have Charles Johnson, Mario Addison, and Wes Horton on the roster.

As of now, the Patriots don’t have a second-round pick but have three in the third (Nos. 72, 96, and 103).

Ealy helps replenish the team’s depth chart at defensive end, as Jabaal Sheard found a new home Friday and Chris Long has said he will not return to New England.

Sheard signed a three-year deal with Indianapolis, a league source confirmed. The deal reportedly is worth $25 million, with $10 million in the first year.

Sheard, who turns 28 in May, played in 28 games in two years with the Patriots, collecting 13 sacks and four forced fumbles. A second-round pick by the Browns in 2011, he signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Patriots before the 2015 season.

Sheard had a great first season in New England, collecting eight sacks as the team’s most consistent pass rusher. But he struggled with consistency in 2016, becoming a part-time rotational player who played in 55 percent of snaps.


Sheard drew the ire of the coaching staff by free-lancing too much, and he was left home for the Week 11 game in San Francisco, costing him a $62,500 roster bonus and souring his relationship with the team, per league sources.

In addition to Sheard, the Patriots also lost cornerback Logan Ryan, who inked a three-year, $30 million pact with the Titans.

Ryan was a versatile and valuable player in his four seasons in New England, playing both on the edge and in the slot. Strong and smart, Ryan was often lauded by Bill Belichick for his physicality and preparedness.

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Dwayne Allen has hardly had time to make an impression on his new teammates. But some of them have already made an impression on him.

The Patriots’ newest tight end said he’s looking forward to working with Tom Brady, whom he called “the GOAT,” and teaming up with Rob Gronkowski, whom he said “is the best tight end in the National Football League, so I think there is a lot that I can learn from him.’’

Allen, who was acquired Wednesday from the Colts in exchange for a fourth-round pick, takes the place of Martellus Bennett, who signed with the Packers.

Allen, a five-year veteran, said he was initially shocked at learning that he was traded, even though fellow tight end Jack Doyle had been extended by Indianapolis on Tuesday.


“I believe that there was room for two tight ends, but [Colts general manager] Chris [Ballard] had other plans and I’m sure that it’s within his plan to rebuild the Colts organization,’’ said Allen.

Allen was working out at his alma mater, Clemson, when he found out about the trade.

“Of course initially, [I was] a bit shocked,’’ he said. “I did not know I was going to be traded to the New England Patriots, but after the initial shock wore off, then came some excitement and definitely a lot of joy.’’

Allen is a versatile tight end known more for his blocking, something he takes seriously.

“I really believe that it’s a lost art in the game, especially at the tight end position,’’ he said. “It’s something that I work at daily. I want to be not only the best blocking tight end, but I want to be the best blocker on my team.’’

Allen has already had conversations with Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and their philosophies of working hard and winning are right in line with his.

“One thing that I’ve caught on to early is Coach Belichick’s saying of, ‘The more you can do,’ ’’ said Allen. “I’m just about winning. I want to win and I understand that the more skills I can provide the offense, then hopefully the more mismatches that can be created for myself and other players.

“That’s what I’m about. I’m excited to be utilized as a football player again and not be confined to any box, just be a football player, a tight end.’’


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Jimmy Garoppolo continues to be big news, even when the news isn’t news at all.

A post on the quarterback’s verified Instagram account early Friday morning had much of New England in a tizzy.

The post included a picture of Garoppolo with the Lombardi Trophy and the caption, “So grateful for my time in New England. Peace out Boston.’’

That led to much speculation on the street and on the airwaves that Garoppolo had been traded, but Garoppolo’s agent, Don Yee, later issued a statement saying that the account had been hacked.

Ben Volin of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com