FOXBORO, Mass. — Defensive lineman Gerard Warren didn't really want to hear from anyone else. He told his agent not to call from him until he heard from the Patriots, and when that moment finally arrived, it was time to strike a deal.
"I don't want to burn any bridges, but that's pretty much what it boiled down to," Warren said when he was asked if he wanted to play for the Patriots and no one else. "I told everybody I wanted to come back to New England because I knew what the purpose was here."
Warren was a relatively unknown commodity when he arrived in New England prior to the 2010 season. He was coming off a three-year stint in Oakland and had also spent time in Cleveland (2001-04) and Denver (2005-06).
But the 6-foot-4, 325-pounder was the team's most consistent defensive lineman next to Vince Wilfork, and he expressed interest in returning to the Patriots at the conclusion of the 2010 season. That's why it was strange to see the Patriots sign a slew of defensive linemen at the outset of free agency while appearing to ignore Warren.
Yet, head coach Bill Belichick said Monday they planned all along to reel in Warren, who will compete with a number of proven veterans for a spot on the Patriots' roster. The competition on the line only added to Warren's desire to stay in Foxboro.
"Everybody is out here working to get better day in and day out," said Warren, who noted that he's got a few years left in the tank. "The one thing I like about it is it's always open competition. Not too many positions are solidified. You've just got to come in working. The best man wins."