The New England Patriots have lost another defensive starter to Matt Patricia.
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton on Wednesday agreed to terms on a two-year, $8 million contract with the Detroit Lions, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told multiple media outlets. Shelton can officially sign once the NFL league year opens at 4 p.m. ET.
Shelton enjoyed a resurgent 2019 season, starting 14 games for the Patriots and setting career highs in tackles (61) and sacks (three). The 6-foot-2, 345-pounder emerged the team’s top run-stuffer after enduring a humbling streak of healthy scratches late in 2018 and languishing in free agency until mid-May. He ultimately re-signed with New England on a one-year deal worth just over $1 million.
Shelton said his farewells on social media shortly after the news broke.
Defensive tackle now becomes a major need for the Patriots, who already were light on depth at the position. The only players remaining on their depth chart are starter Lawrence Guy and 2019 fifth-round draft pick Byron Cowart, who played sparingly as a rookie.
The Patriots also placed a second-round restricted free agent tender on interior pass-rusher Adam Butler, so he should be back. Practice squadder Nick Thurman is under contract, as well, and will compete for a roster spot.
Shelton is the second Patriots defender to agree to terms with the Lions this offseason. Linebacker Jamie Collins did so Monday, reuniting him with Patricia, his first defensive coordinator in New England. They’ll join former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers in Detroit.
The Patriots also lost linebacker Kyle Van Noy to the Brian Flores-coached Miami Dolphins, removing three starters from a defense that led the NFL in yards allowed and points allowed in 2019.