The almost daily departure of familiar names continued yesterday for the Patriots as guard Joe Andruzzi left for the Cleveland Browns.
Despite the number of notable veterans who have been released recently, Andruzzi is the first Super Bowl starter to exit since the season ended, and he is the first Patriot to leave via free agency.
The eight-year veteran, who started the last five seasons with the Patriots after beginning his career with Green Bay, signed a four-year, $9 million contract with the Browns, according to his agent, Joe Linta.
"We talked to the Patriots several times [yesterday], and the parting was completely amicable," Linta said late last night. "We understand that if Joe hadn't been with the Patriots, he wouldn't have been offered what he's now getting. "It's like going away to college -- you're excited about it, but sad as well."
Andruzzi had been trying to work out a new contract with the Patriots, but the offer from the Browns exceeded what New England could bring to the table. Andruzzi made $1.2 million last season and repeatedly said he preferred to remain with New England.
The Patriots declined comment on the departure.
Often described as a blue-collar player, Andruzzi started all 72 games he played for the Patriots, not missing a start in their three Super Bowl seasons.
The release of Ty Law left the Patriots thin at cornerback, and apparently they have begun to address that need.
Two sources familiar with the negotiations said the Patriots are working on a trade with the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Duane Starks, a six-year veteran out of Miami.
The swap could be finalized as early as today, with the Patriots giving up a draft pick -- likely a third-rounder -- if New England and Starks are able to work out a restructured contract.
Starks, who stands 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 174 pounds, is slated to make $3.6 million in each of the next two seasons.
Starks, who started eight games in 2004, missed the 2003 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Before coming to Arizona, he led the Ravens with six interceptions in 2000, adding three more picks during the playoffs, including one he returned 49 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXV.