The New England Patriots made a high-upside addition to their secondary Monday morning, signing former Oakland Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu.
Melifonwu’s agent, Sean Stellato, announced the signing to multiple media outlets.
The 6-foot-4, 224-pound UConn product has done little at the NFL level, appearing in just five games for the Raiders after they drafted him in the second round in 2017. He missed the first half of his rookie season with ankle and hip injuries and was waived/injured before final roster cuts this summer.
After clearing waivers, Melifonwu reverted to injured reserve, where he remained until the Raiders released him Oct. 23.
Despite his lack of NFL production, Melifonwu’s athletic profile is highly enticing. In addition to boasting rare size for a defensive back, he also turned in one of the most impressive performances ever at the NFL Scouting Combine, posting a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, 4.58-second three-cone drill, 44-inch vertical jump and 141-inch broad jump.
In New England, Melifonwu will provide depth behind starting safeties Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. The only other safety on the Patriots’ roster had been Nate Ebner, who rarely is used outside of special teams.
Twenty-six of Melifonwu’s 34 career defensive snaps came in the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots in Mexico City last season. The 24-year-old also played 42 special teams snaps over his five appearances and has experience at both safety and cornerback.
The signing represents a homecoming for Melifonwu, who was raised in Grafton, Mass.