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Koppen, Patriots reach 2-year deal

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / April 14, 2012
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The Patriots and Dan Koppen agreed to a two-year contract Friday, a league source confirmed, meaning the veteran center will remain with the only NFL team he’s known.

NFL Network reported the deal is worth a total of $6 million.

Koppen, a fifth-round draft pick out of Boston College in 2003, missed nearly all of last season after suffering a broken ankle in the opener against Miami.

Koppen, who hit free agency for the first time in his career, didn’t receive a lot of interest on the open market, likely because of his injury. He visited the Titans last week.

Dan Connolly started at center when Koppen went down, and he also was a free agent, though last month Connolly agreed with the Patriots to a three-year, $10 million deal that included a $3.25 million signing bonus.

Koppen’s deal could be similar to the two-year pact Matt Light got last season; there’s a large chunk of money in the second year of the deal that Koppen, 32, might not see.

Koppen and Connolly will compete for the starting job this season, though the sense is that the job is Connolly’s to lose.

Having both under contract also allows the Patriots flexibility with regards to Logan Mankins as he recovers from anterior cruciate ligament surgery. If newly signed Robert Gallery does not work out at guard, Connolly could slide into that spot. When Mankins sat out the first seven games of 2010 during a contract dispute, Connolly started at left guard.

With Brian Waters’s deal expiring after the 2012 season, the Patriots likely will still be in the market for interior linemen in the upcoming draft.

In addition to Koppen, Connolly, Waters, and Gallery, the Patriots also have Ryan Wendell, Nick McDonald, and Donald Thomas under contract at guard and center.

Free agent linebacker Gary Guyton agreed to a contract with the Dolphins Friday; Guyton visited Miami last week. After playing in 32 games (24 starts) over the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Guyton played in 13 games last season and was a healthy scratch three times. An undrafted free agent in 2008, Guyton posted via Twitter his thanks to the Patriots for giving him the opportunity “to [play] football at a high level.’’

Greg A. Bedard of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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