Dan Koppen, an integral part of the New England Patriots' recent success, isn't going anywhere after all. The team has re-signed the veteran center to a two-year deal, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
It is expected that he and Dan Connolly will compete for the starting job entering 2012. Meanwhile, Koppen will receive about $6 million over the life of the contract, according Albert Breer of the NFL Network.
Originally a fifth-round pick out of Boston College in the 2003 NFL draft, Koppen quickly became an unsung hero on the Patriots' Super Bowl teams in 2003 and 2004. He handled the center duties and protected quarterback and closed friend Tom Brady.
Koppen has started all but one of the 121 games that he has appeared in for the Patriots. However, he is coming off a fractured ankle injury that held him out of the last 15 regular-season games of 2011, as well as the playoffs.
The nine-year veteran drew interest from the Tennessee Titans this offseason in free agency, but will ultimately head back to the only team he has ever played for and the one that provides him with the best chance to win another championship.
Koppen has long been lauded by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for his intelligence.
On the lineman's ability to think before the snap, Belichick once said:
He's as good as anybody I've been around at communication and identification and just being football smart. Knowing what's going to happen and when to do the right thing, when to change something, when to leave it the same.
In 2007, Koppen was named to both the Pro Bowl and as a second team All Pro.