What Will Be Different in Patrick Chung's Second Go-Round with the Patriots?April 3, 2014
In any kind of relationship—personal or professional—sometimes a little time apart can do wonders for both sides.
The New England Patriots and safety Patrick Chung parted ways last offseason, with Chung signing a three-year, $10 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent in 2013. One year later, he found himself once again a free agent after the Eagles released him in a cap-saving move.
According to Tom E. Curran of CSN New England, the Patriots and Chung have agreed to a reunion in 2014.
Terms of the deal were not immediately made available, but it's easy to see what roles Chung will play even without the details of his contract.
With Brandon Meriweather, Brandon McGowan and James Sanders in the fold during his rookie year in 2009, Chung was brought up through the system slowly but became a full-time starter in 2010 and played a majority of the snaps.
In his second go-round with the Patriots, he will likely go back to a limited role in the defense. The Patriots have invested a second- and third-round pick in their strong safeties over the past two years, with Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon added to the roster in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
As potentially the third strong safety, Chung joins the roster in a fight for a spot.
That being said, he has a chance to make the roster, and a recent change in scheme could help him along the way. In 2012, the Patriots ran a Cover 2 scheme that asked Chung to cover deep.
They switched to more of a Cover 1 scheme in 2013, with Devin McCourty often covering from sideline to sideline on his own. As a result, the strong safeties were covering short and intermediate routes more often than before. Chung is better suited for that role, where his lack of reaction speed is less likely to be exposed.
One thing that won't change is Chung's contributions on special teams. He was in on all three areas of special teams (punt, field goals, kickoff) and made several big plays in that area, specifically with two blocked kicks—one punt and one field goal—against the Miami Dolphins in a 2010 regular-season game.
One thing the Patriots and Chung are both hoping is different: the injury bug, which bit Chung numerous times in his four-year stint with the team. He was healthy for all 16 games as a rookie (although he played only 194 snaps that season), but he missed a total of 14 games in his final three seasons with the team and missed at least two games each year (eight in 2011).
With Chung, Harmon and Wilson all in the mix at strong safety, the Patriots have a bit of a logjam brewing. They've been searching for answers there for years, but the Patriots probably aren't viewing Chung as "the answer" at the position.
He'll get a chance to make the roster and contribute, but despite his experience, it would be a surprise if he won the job out of camp.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases. All salary-cap and contract information provided by Spotrac.