Source: Pats float incentives for Springs

Updated: March 9, 2009, 1:59 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

It didn't take long for free-agent cornerback Shawn Springs to find a new home, or for the New England Patriots to strengthen their secondary with a veteran cover man.

Springs agreed to a contract with the Patriots last week after visiting with team officials. A source told ESPN.com's John Clayton on Monday that the deal is worth in excess of $10.5 million over three years, and if Springs reaches all of his playing incentives he could make as much as $13 million.

The addition of Springs will restore his twice-a-season matchup opposite receiver Terrell Owens, who signed with the Buffalo Bills over the weekend. As a Washington Redskin, Springs usually did well in trying to contain Owens when the was a Dallas Cowboy. The 33-year-old Springs is particularly strong covering receivers out of the slot.

The move continues a trend by the Pats in recent years of signing a veteran cornerback in the offseason to bolster their defense. Springs, 33, was released by the Washington Redskins last week after the team re-signed free agent DeAngelo Hall.

Springs also considered signing with Philadelphia.

Patriots officials visited with free agent Leigh Bodden (Detroit) earlier in the week, then turned their attention to Springs. It is believed that Springs, who can play cornerback or safety, could challenge for a starting job.

Springs, a 12-year veteran, has played for the Redskins the past five seasons. Prior to that, Springs played seven seasons in Seattle, which chose him with a first-round draft pick in 1997 with the third pick overall.

The former Ohio State star has played in 143 games with 134 starts. He has 372 tackles, 32 interceptions, 66 passes defensed and 8 1/2 sacks. Springs is the son of former Dallas running back Ron Springs. He played in nine games with seven starts for the Redskins in 2008, before an injury ended his season.

The Patriots on Thursday also acquired wide receiver Greg Lewis from Philadelphia.

New England will get Lewis, along with an undisclosed choice in the 2010 draft, in exchange for an undisclosed choice in the 2009 draft. Over the last two seasons, Lewis has dropped down the Eagles' depth chart.

A veteran of 90 games, and 23 starts, Lewis made the Philadelphia roster as an undrafted free agent in 2003. The former Illinois standout has 127 catches for 1,699 yards and seven touchdowns. His most productive season was in 2005, when he caught 48 passes for 561 yards.

The Patriots also re-signed starting safety James Sanders, punter Chris Hanson and reserve linebacker Eric Alexander on Thursday.

Sanders, a fourth-round pick in 2005, has started 36 games over his first four seasons in New England. He has 198 career tackles, five interceptions and a sack.

Hanson has played ten seasons in the NFL, the last two with the Patriots. He averaged 43.7 yards on 49 punts in 2008, with nine touchbacks and 19 kicks inside the 20.

Alexander was signed as a rookie free agent in 2004. He appeared in only one game last season because of a hamstring injury.

The Patriots also released linebacker Darrell Robertson, who spent part of last season on the practice squad.

Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton are senior NFL writers for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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