Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Matt Light ready for football
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For most of the offseason, veteran left tackle Matt Light worked out with some of his New England Patriots teammates, his hope that he'd be re-signing with the club as a free agent. He had no assurances.
Then the Patriots selected left tackle Nate Solder in the first round of April's draft, and it was only natural that even more doubt about his New England future surfaced.
In the end, however, it was the happy ending Light hoped for, as the Patriots signed him Monday to a reported two-year, $12 million contract with $7 million guaranteed.
"There's always doubt, unfortunately, because it's a business," the 33-year-old Light said. "For me personally, my family and everybody else, we're really excited to be back here in New England. There has not been a time in my life that I've been more ready to play the game of football."
Light has been quarterback Tom Brady's primary blindside protector since the Patriots selected him in the second round of the 2001 draft, playing in 157 games with 155 starts (including playoffs). If things go according to the team's plan, he'll soon be passing the torch to Solder, the unsigned first-round draft choice from Colorado.
Light's OK with that arrangement.
"Drafting a guy that will come in and fill in for these old bones, it was inevitable," he said, noting that it highlights the competitive environment coach Bill Belichick favors. "Hopefully we'll have some fun teaching him a thing or two out here."
Light said things became hectic when free agency began, but he didn't reveal if he visited other clubs, or considered signing with them. In returning to New England, he said, "we're back here where we belong."
"I shared with the Kraft family what it meant for me to be a part of this over the last decade," he said. "The caliber of player they bring in, the work ethic, the expectations, everything all wrapped into one, there's a reason we've been successful. There's a reason guys want to play here. I'm just happy to be a part of it for another year or two."
Light also played a role in ensuring labor peace for the next 10 years. He serves as the Patriots' player representative and was planning to take part in a Wednesday night conference call on some of the remaining issues before the labor agreement is officially finalized.
"I know they're going back and forth right now on some of these issues that are outstanding, whether it's player conduct issues and things of that nature, to the testing, there are things that need to be ironed out. I'm sure they will," he said.
Light echoed remarks of NFLPA executive committee member Jeff Saturday when it came to Patriots owner Robert Kraft's role in negotiations.
"I think, from day one, even if it went back to last season it was always 'Let's get the lawyers out of the room, let's get together, let's sit down, have a real conversation.' I guess that's a hard thing to do, but he was the only one that was really able to make that happen," Light said.
"What you saw with [Jeff] Saturday and some of the other guys on the executive committee, their reaction to his involvement speaks volumes. They let me know how important it was to have him in that room and what kind of leadership and experience he brought to the whole conversation, which really was a thing that was lacking for a long time."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.