Patriots acquire five-year vet Wesley from Bears

Updated: August 7, 2007, 4:20 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Always seeking depth and versatility in their secondary, the New England Patriots added another veteran Tuesday afternoon, acquiring backup Dante Wesley from the Chicago Bears in exchange for an undisclosed draft choice.

Dante Wesley

Wesley

The draft pick is believed to be a late-round selection.

It marks the Bears' second trade involving a backup defensive back in five days. Chicago last Thursday dealt two-year veteran safety Chris Harris to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth-round selection in the 2008 draft. The Bears continue to accumulate draft picks for the future in exchange for players who no longer fit into their present plans.

Chicago had been shopping Wesley, a five-year veteran, in trade talks for several days. Had the Bears not found a buyer for Wesley, they likely would have released him.

Wesley, 28, was not in attendance for the Bears' full-pad workout at Solider Field over the weekend, and that sent a strong message that his days in Chicago were numbered.

New England has suffered through injuries in its secondary each of the past three seasons, and the Patriots have worked hard to improve their depth in that area. But the Pats already lost cornerback Chad Scott to a season-ending knee injury and cornerback Asante Samuel, designated as a franchise player, still has not signed a contract and is out of camp.

Because he can play both safety and cornerback, and is a solid special teams performer, Wesley figures to be a good fit for the Patriots' roster. The former Arkansas-Pine Bluff star is a physically imposing player, at 6-feet-1, 210 pounds, but has never quite lived up to his full potential.

A fourth-round choice of Carolina in the 2002 draft, Wesley played four seasons for the Panthers before signing with the Bears as a free agent last spring.

In 71 games, Wesley has 80 tackles, one sack, 12 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two recoveries. He also has 40-plus tackles on special teams coverage units for his career, including 13 tackles for Chicago in 2006.

Wesley has one season remaining on his contract, at a minimum base salary of $595,000. Barring an extension, he would be eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.