FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Of the seven free agents the New England Patriots hosted on Thursday, five were offensive skill-position players. But the defense wasn't completely overlooked as defensive end Frank Kearse (Washington) and defensive back Sherrick McManis (Chicago) were the other two visitors at Gillette Stadium.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Kearse has played with Carolina (2011-2012), Dallas (2013) and Washington (2014-2015). He has eight career starts, split over his first two NFL seasons in Carolina.
Kearse, 27, attended Alabama A&M and this past season he flip-flopped on and off Washington's roster. He could be a depth-based option in New England behind starting defensive tackles Malcom Brown and Alan Branch, as unrestricted free-agent Akiem Hicks could be departing with a visit scheduled with the Bears.
Meanwhile, McManis (6-foot-1, 197 pounds) is a core special teams player who enters his seventh NFL season in 2016. He played for Houston (2010-2011) and Chicago (2012-2015) after entering the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice out of Northwestern. The Bears had acquired McManis in a trade for fullback Tyler Clutts.
McManis could have been be a potential replacement if safety Nate Ebner departs in free agency, but he later agreed to return to the Bears.