Patriots, Heath reach agreement on two-year extension

INDIANAPOLIS -- The New England Patriots have reached agreement with versatile running back Heath Evans on a two-year contract extension that will keep the six-year veteran off the unrestricted free agent market.

Heath Evans Evans

Financial details of the extension were not immediately available, but sources here for the annual NFL scouting combine confirmed the agreement. Without the extension, Evans would have been able to sign with another team when the free agency period commenced on March 2.

Securing the services of Evans for two more seasons, likely at a palatable price tag, gives the Pats a valuable veteran back who plays a lot of key roles in New England. It also bolsters a backfield depth chart that could be thinned if the Pats release veteran Corey Dillon after the start of free agency.

Dillon has requested his release and indications are it will be granted, although Patriots officials have yet to confirm that.

Evans, 28, has lined up at tailback and fullback for New England, can play in one-back sets, and is a contributor on special teams. In two seasons with the Pats, he has appeared in 28 games, with six starts, and carried 79 times for 309 yards and no touchdowns. For his career, Evans has 417 yards and no touchdowns on 112 carries.

The former Auburn standout was a third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2001 draft. He signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2005 as an unrestricted free agent, was released early that season, and quickly signed with the Patriots.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.