Patriots sign Damione Lewis to add DL depth

The Patriots added veteran depth at defensive tackle, reaching an agreement with former first-round pick Damione Lewis, according to ESPN and NFL Network reports.Lewis is 32 and a 10-year veteran who started all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers last season but was released in early March.

He told the Charlotte Observer he expected the move when Carolina turned down his request to rework his contract. Lewis was due $4 million in base salary, plus a $1 million roster bonus this month.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 301-pound Lewis had 41 tackles (29 solo) and a half-sack in 2009.

Lewis can fill in behind nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Myron Pryor saw action at the nose as a rookie last season. Mike Wright, who has played the nose, is expected to see more time at defensive end because Jarvis Green signed with the Denver Broncos.

Lewis is known as a solid locker room presence, considered one of the leaders in Carolina.

Like Wilfork, Lewis played at the University of Miami. He was the 12th overall pick in 2001 by the Rams. He spent five years with St. Louis and joined the Panthers in 2006. Unlike the Patriots, who play a base 3-4 defense, both of those teams played a 4-3.

He played 62 of 64 regular-season games with the Panthers, averaging close to four sacks before a dropoff last season. Lewis became a starter for Carolina in 2008 after Kris Jenkins was traded to the Jets.

Click here to order Damione Lewis' proCane Rookie Card.

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