Patten, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots from 2001-04, signed a contract with the Pats on Tuesday night, according to a source. The team announced the deal Wednesday afternoon.
Mark Lepselter, who represents Patten, said the receiver was "thrilled and ecstatic" to get a second go-round in New England. Head coach Bill Belichick gave Patten his first real opportunity to thrive in the league, and the two sides have had a great deal of respect for one another since then.
"In his heart of hearts, Dave always felt he would come back to New England," Lepselter said, "and I couldn't be happier for him."
Patten, 35, was out of football in 2009 after getting cut in the preseason by the Cleveland Browns, and he was hoping to get another shot to play for a team that was looking to add a veteran presence. Patten contacted the Patriots, and he worked out for the team Tuesday before signing the contract, according to a source. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the deal is assumed to be for the veteran minimum.
This is also a solid deal for the Patriots, who need to add valuable locker room figures, and they've got nothing to lose by signing Patten to a no-risk contract. Patten caught 165 passes for 2,513 yards and 16 touchdowns in four seasons with the Patriots. He caught 13 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in three playoff games during the Pats' drive to Super Bowl XXXVI.
Patten, who almost signed a deal with the Patriots in 2007, plans to take a rookie approach in New England, according to the source. He won't buy a home and plans to live with some friends near Gillette Stadium, continuing the humble ways that have made him such a popular player since entering the league in 1997.