Report: Thomas headed to Patriots

John Murphy and Jason Cole
Yahoo! Sports

Linebacker Adalius Thomas, one of the top free agents in this year's class, has finalized an agreement to sign with the New England Patriots, according to numerous reports.

Thomas arrived in New England late Friday and negotiations began almost immediately between the team and agent Bus Cook. The talks continued into Saturday morning before the deal was struck. Beyond the Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers also made a strong offer to Thomas, one of three Pro Bowl linebackers for the Baltimore Ravens last season.

The Boston Herald reported on its website that the deal was complete and included guaranteed money of between $15 and $20 million. Thomas and cornerback Nate Clements were considered the top two players in free agency by most NFL observers. Clements, 27, signed an eight-year, $80 million with the 49ers on Friday. That deal included $22 million in guarantees, according to an NFL source.

The Patriots were also reportedly interested in Clements, but have consistently put a higher priority on signing linebackers who can pass rush. Thomas, 29, is coming off a career-high 11 sacks last season with Baltimore, where he played his entire career. Thomas also has 28 sacks over the past three years and is surprisingly agile despite weighing 270 pounds. In fact, he once lined up at cornerback to cover wide receiver Chad Johnson in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2005.

In 2003, the Patriots made a similar move in free agency, signing linebacker Rosevelt Colvin away from the Chicago Bears after Colvin had back-to-back years with 10½ sacks.

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