Patriots ink deal with holdout first-rounder Brandon Meriweather


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – New England Patriots top draft pick Brandon Meriweather looked comfortable covering receiver Randy Moss during his first practice Saturday, but coach Bill Belichick offered a typically subdued assessment.

“He has a long way to go,” Belichick said of the defensive back, whose signing was announced Saturday. Terms of the deal were no disclosed.

Meriweather, the 24th overall pick, had 91 tackles for the University of Miami last season, his senior year. His best statistical season came the year before, when he had 115 tackles.

The 5-foot-11, 200 pound Meriweather finished his college career with seven interceptions.

Meriweather, 23, was New England’s only unsigned draft choice.

During drills, he stayed with Moss, who caught two passes from Tom Brady on short sideline routes.

“We’ll work him at both spots,” Belichick said of using Meriweather at cornerback and safety.

“He’s played a lot of different positions in college. People on our team are going to have to have some versatility and play different spots anyway, so he falls into that category.”

The team did not make Meriweather available to the media.

His signing comes as cornerback Asante Samuel’s holdout continued into the second day of training camp.

Samuel is holding out for a multiyear agreement after rejecting a one-year, $7.79 million contract.

Belichick stressed that players who offer versatility have a better chance at making the team.

“You just can’t have a backup at every position,” he said. “By the time you take your three specialists and a couple of quarterbacks and your offensive linemen to the game, you don’t have enough people to back up every spot. You have to double up somewhere and that’s where a player’s versatility can help him earn a playing roster spot at the game or even keep him on the team. It helps our team and it helps the individual player. It works well both ways.”