Patriots notebook

Broncos' McDaniels gets Paxton, Gaffney

LONIE PAXTONDeal worth $5.38m LONIE PAXTONDeal worth $5.38m
By Christopher L. Gasper and Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / February 28, 2009
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It didn't take Josh McDaniels long to raid his old team. The former Patriots offense coordinator, now head coach of the Broncos, wrangled two Patriots to join him in Denver, signing long snapper Lonie Paxton and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney.

Paxton inked a five-year, $5.38 million deal with a $1 million signing bonus. Among long snappers, only Cleveland's Ryan Pontbriand will be paid more.

"It was the only scenario we would leave [for]," said Paul Sheehy, Paxton's agent, pointing out that it is the second-richest deal awarded to a long snapper.

Gaffney reportedly signed a four-year, $10 million deal with $3 million in guarantees. He was fourth on the Patriots with 38 receptions last season and had 468 receiving yards and two touchdowns in seven starts.

Gaffney, 28, joined the Patriots midway through the 2006 season and quickly became a reliable target. In three seasons in New England, he started 20 of the 43 games he played, and had 85 receptions for 1,059 yards and eight touchdowns.

"I loved New England and being a Patriot," said Gaffney. "The fans up there are great, and it's just a great place to be. I'll always have love for New England, but the unfortunate part of the NFL is that it's a business and I had to go; it was too good of an opportunity for me and my family to pass up."

Paxton, 30, joined the Patriots as a free agent in 2000 and had spent all nine of his seasons in New England. He has handled the Patriots' long-snapping duties for 80 straight regular-season games and he helped kicker Stephen Gostkowski earn a Pro Bowl nod this season.

Paxton is remembered for his snow angel after Adam Vinatieri hit a game-winning 23-yard field goal in overtime to beat the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC Divisional playoffs.

With Paxton's departure and the trade of linebacker Mike Vrabel, just seven Patriots remain from all three Super Bowl teams: Tom Brady, Matt Light, Kevin Faulk, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Stephen Neal, and special teamer Larry Izzo, who is a free agent.

CB Bodden visits
Free agent cornerback Leigh Bodden was in Foxborough yesterday for a visit, but the Patriots and his agent, Alvin Keels, couldn't come to an agreement.

Keels said Bodden's visit went well, and he and the Patriots will continue to talk.

Bodden, 27, was released by the Detroit Lions earlier this month. He had one interception with the Lions. Detroit traded Shaun Rogers to Cleveland to obtain Bodden, then signed him to a four-year, $27 million contract extension.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 193-pound Bodden might be a good fit for the Patriots because he flourished in Cleveland when former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was his coach. Bodden had a career-high six interceptions in 2007 with Cleveland and picked off 11 passes in the three years he played in Crennel's system.

Wright garners interest
A number of teams have expressed interest in Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright, according to his agent, Buddy Baker. Baker said Wright was likely to go on a visit in the next few days, but said Wright isn't closing the door on the Patriots. "We have an open dialogue with the Patriots," said Baker . . . Offensive lineman Wesley Britt, who did not receive a restricted free agent tender from the Patriots, was still weighing his options . . . Other notable Patriots free agents who will be testing the market are safety James Sanders, fullback Heath Evans, offensive lineman Russ Hochstein, and Izzo.

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