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Patriots Bolster Defense with Kelly

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The Patriots signed veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly to a two-year deal. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.
The Patriots signed veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly to a two-year deal. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

The Patriots added veteran defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who was cut by the Raiders earlier this off-season with the salary cap in mind. The addition was made Monday afternoon to solidify the defensive line. He was signed to a two-year contract.

Kelly has played in the league nine years, all for the Raiders. In 2012, Kelly recorded 25 total tackles, with 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and two passes defensed. Over the years, Kelly has been an interior force, notching a career-best 7.5 sacks in 2011. For an interior lineman, his numbers are impressive.

Which shows why the Patriots added a talent like Kelly. In a league where decent pass rushing is few and far between, the Patriots now have two of the best in the league at getting to the quarterback from inside the pocket.

Coupled with Vince Wilfork, Kelly and the Patriots are looking to buff up the defense that was the team's kryptonite in 2012. Getting to the opponent's quarterback has been an issue for the team in the years since New England's most recent Super Bowl victory in 2004. By adding Kelly and safety Adrian Wilson, who is known for his ability to pressure the quarterback from the defensive backfield, the Patriots are clearly on a path of defensive strengthening.

Had Kelly stayed with Oakland, his cap hit would have been $6.5 million against the Raiders in 2013.