Haslam becomes the eighth Rutgers alumnus on the current Patriots roster. In a corresponding move, tackle R.J. Mattes was waived by the Patriots to make room for the new addition.
The 26-year-old Haslam is 6'5" and 304 pounds. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010. He made their roster out of training camp, and went on to play in five games that year before being placed on injured reserve because of a severe knee injury.
Haslam missed the entire 2011 season because of his knee, and was released by the Jaguars during the following offseason
He signed with the Oakland Raiders but was released prior to the start of the 2012 season.
The Chargers picked up the lineman and used him as a valuable reserve last year. He played in a total of five games, while making three starts. According to MassLive.com, Haslam logged a total of 294 snaps with San Diego, with most of those coming at left tackle.
Haslam possesses the kind of versatility that head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots value in offensive linemen. He has the ability to shift up and down the line where needed at either tackle or guard positions. That could help him make the team as a reserve, as the Patriots are thin on backups, particularly on the left side. Will Svitek, Chris McDonald and Elvis Fisher are currently listed behind the starters. Of that group, only Svitek has previously seen NFL game action. The other two were signed this offseason as undrafted rookie free agents.
The addition of Haslam continues the Patriots' ongoing infatuation with players who attended Rutgers. He is the sixth former Scarlet Knight to join the team this year, and the eighth on their current 90-man roster. He joins new draftees Steve Beauharnais, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, and Brandon Jones, who signed as an undrafted free agent this offseason. Veterans Devin McCourty and Justin Francis are holdovers from last year.
The Patriots' ties with Rutgers football run deep. Belichick is close friends with Greg Schiano, who led the program from 2001-2011 before leaving to become the Tampa Bay Bucs' head coach.
Additionally, Belichick's son Steve was a long-snap under Schiano in 2011. The Patriots have obviously used these connections to their advantage to get more inside information about these players than what is available from standard scouting reports.
As a waiver claim, Haslam has no guarantees entering training camp. The Patriots are taking a flier on him because he is young, cheap and versatile. If he can prove his worth once players strap on the pads and start hitting, he could make himself a valuable reserve on the team in 2013.
Andrew Martin writes for Bleacher Report, where he serves as a Featured Columnist (Boston Red Sox). He has also appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts, and written on the topics of sports and history for a number of print publications and websites.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @historianandrew
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