Patriots sign Leon Washington

Updated: March 15, 2013, 11:08 AM ET
By Field Yates | ESPNBoston.com

Former Seattle Seahawks running back and return specialist Leon Washington has signed with the New England Patriots, the team announced Thursday.

Financial terms of the deal are not yet known, but a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Washington signed a one-year deal.

The 30-year-old Washington, tied with Josh Cribbs for the most kickoff returns for touchdowns in NFL history with eight, was expendable in Seattle after its recent acquisition of Percy Harvin.

He now joins New England, a team that finished 25th in the NFL with a 21.2 yards-per-kickoff-return average last season. Washington trailed only the Ravens' Jacoby Jones for the league lead in kickoff return yard average at 29.0 in 2012.

Originally a fourth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2006, Washington also has been used as a change-of-pace running back during his seven NFL seasons, with career marks of 473 rushes for 2,213 yards.

The Patriots relied on top defensive back Devin McCourty as their primary kickoff returner in 2012, as well as veteran running back Danny Woodhead, who is also a free agent.

The team added former University of Florida running back and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jeff Demps during training camp last season, although he spent the season on injured reserve. He was considered a top candidate to assume kickoff return duty in 2013, and may compete with Washington for that role.

Demps also has expressed a recent interest in simultaneously continuing his track career while playing for the Patriots.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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