Robert Gallery Will Help Patriots in 2012 Even With Undefined Role After Offseason Signing

Robert Gallery Will Help Patriots in 2012 Even With Undefined Role After Offseason SigningPatriots head coach Bill Belichick loves good, quality football players, and he landed one Monday.

Offensive lineman Robert Gallery agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots, and while there doesn't appear to be a starting position openly ready for him, Belichick always likes to point out that those things take care of themselves.

Gallery entered the league as the second overall pick in the 2004 draft, and he was a heavily hyped tackle prospect who thrived for Belichick's good friend, Kirk Ferentz, at Iowa. Yet, after three mediocre years at tackle, the Raiders shifted Gallery inside to guard, where really revived his career.

Gallery, who spent last season with the Seahawks after playing in Oakland for seven years, should figure to provide depth at guard and tackle in New England. Though it's believed that right guard Brian Waters will be back for a second season, Gallery at least provides insurance if Waters retires.

There's still a question at tackle, too. If Matt Light doesn't return, Marcus Cannon would be the top backup, which might be a risk after missing a large chunk of his rookie season. And with Sebastian Vollmer's balky back issue from 2011, it's always a good idea to have a reliable veteran at the ready. Plus, the Patriots have used enough three-tackle sets to know quality depth is a real asset.

Gallery, a 6-foot-7, 325-pounder, has always been a hardnosed player who takes the field with an edge, so he'll fit right in with linemen like Waters and Logan Mankins.

So, even if Gallery's role is undefined at this point in March, it doesn't mean he won't be able to help the team months from now.

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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