FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots swapped one Rutgers product for another in a flurry of roster moves Wednesday, when they released linebacker Jonathan Freeny and signed wide receiver Kenny Britt.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty knows Britt well. They played together at Rutgers for three years before Britt left early for the 2009 NFL Draft.
“He?s a Rutgers guy,” McCourty said. “Do we need to expand on that? We know what that means.”
McCourty clearly is happy to have his friend around. The Cleveland Browns were not. They signed him to a four-year, $32.5 million contract over the offseason before waiving him last week. He then signed a two-year deal with the Patriots.
“He?s a good guy, a joy to be around, always upbeat, always smiling ear-to-ear, a physical guy, obviously big-bodied guy,” McCourty said. “You know, I?m excited for him — the opportunity to come here and try to catch on. Obviously, it?s tough coming in at this point in the year, just trying to learn as much as possible and get out there. It?s always exciting to have a guy you played with in college as a teammate in the NFL.”
Britt, who’s listed at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, caught just 18 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns in nine games with Cleveland this season. He had a career season in 2016 with the Los Angeles Rams, catching 68 passes for 1,002 yards with five scores. He started his career by playing five seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon, another Rutgers alum, didn’t play with Britt at Rutgers but said he knows him from going back to the college over offseasons.
“Another Rutgers guy,” Harmon said. “You can never be mad about that. He’s been in the league for a while. Everybody knows what he’s about, big physical receiver. Happy to have him here. Hope he can help us.”
Britt joins Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Phillip Dorsett and Matthew Slater on the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart. It’s unclear how big of a role he’ll play down the stretch.