Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Updated: March 11, 2:18 PM ET
Faulk, Pats reach one-year deal
By Mike Reiss
The New England Patriots announced Wednesday afternoon they've agreed to terms with running back Kevin Faulk.
The team did not release the terms of the deal, but a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter the deal is for one year and will be signed Thursday. Another source said that Faulk will receive a $1 million signing bonus and can earn an additional $2 million in salary and incentives.
Faulk, who has been with New England since 1999, has been one of the Patriots' most reliable veterans. While he's slowed down a bit of late, he remains productive. Faulk averaged 5.4 yards a carry last season, with 335 yards on 62 carries, while tying for fourth on the club with 37 receptions.
He is the Patriots' all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,140) and kickoff return yards (4,098) and is all-time leading return specialist, totaling 5,031 combined return yards (4,098 kick return yards and 933 punt return yards).
While Faulk is considered by many to be a third-down running back, he has led all running backs in playing time in recent years. He had a 38-percent playtime clip in 2009, as his expertise as a blocker and pass-catcher makes him a lead-type option when the Patriots are in spread formations.
For his career, he has played in 152 games and has accumulated 3,505 yards rushing on 839 attempts for a 4.2-yard average with 16 touchdowns, caught 418 passes for 3,605 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, returned 181 kicks for 4,098 yards and two touchdowns and returned 99 punts for 932 yards. He is one of just six NFL players this decade to total 3,000 rushing yards and 3,000 receiving yards (Tiki Barber, Brian Westbrook, Marshall Faulk, Michael Pittman and LaDanian Tomlinson).
Faulk is the Patriots' all-time leader in receptions by a running back, totaling 418 career receptions. He is the 26th running back in NFL history to reach 400 receptions and his 3,605 receiving yards are third among active NFL running backs.
Faulk said he knew all along that he would be returning to the Patriots, but his hope was that the team would sweeten its offer.
It didn't turn out that way and when Faulk saw running back Thomas Jones sign a two-year, $5 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, he decided it was time to sign his own name on the dotted line.
"He's one of the top backs in the league. He finished third in rushing last year," Faulk said. "So when he signed that deal, it made a statement to us that 'this is where the market is.' And I'm not a starting running back."
Faulk's agent Raymond Brothers said that "four or five teams" were interested in talking with Faulk, but the player wasn't ready to get on a plane.
"It probably would have pushed his deal with the Patriots more if he had taken the visits," Brothers said. "But he told me 'I don't want to be bluffing. I want to be back with the Patriots. If we can't work something out, then we'll do it.'"
Given the Patriots' focus on locker-room dynamics this offseason, bringing Faulk back was a no-brainer.
Faulk is the fifth player from last year's team to reach an agreement with the Patriots in the past week. Vince Wilfork, Tully Banta-Cain, Stephen Neal and Leigh Bodden are the others.
When looking at the team's running back group, it has some age with Faulk (33) joining Fred Taylor (34) and Sammy Morris (32) in the over-30 club. Laurence Maroney (25) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (24) are on the opposite end of the spectrum.
With the group returning, the Patriots won't be locked into selecting one in the draft. If they do, it would figure to be with 2011 in mind more than 2010.
And while Faulk's contract is for one year, he isn't currently thinking that 2010 will be his last season.
"It's a question my wife asked me today. She said, 'We got this done, so what's next?' The only thing I could tell her is that right now I don't know the answer," he said. "We'll see at the end of the season how I feel physically and mentally. But right now I feel good."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.
Material from the Patriots media department was used in this report.