FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have agreed to terms with offensive lineman Matt Light on a contract that would keep him protecting Tom Brady’s blind side for two more years, a person familiar with the deal said Monday.
Light would earn up to $12 million, with $7 million guaranteed, the person told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.
A Patriots spokesman did not respond to an inquiry about Light. Nick Caserio, the director of player personnel, said Sunday that “conversations are ongoing.”
“Matt’s been a good player for us for a long time,” he said. “Matt’s made a lot of contributions to this team. He’s been a good player for us, so we’ll see what happens.”
A three-time Pro Bowl selection in 10 seasons with the Patriots — including three Super Bowl victories — Light started every game last season at left tackle. Brady called Light “one of my favorite players that I’ve ever played with.”
“He’s a great guy, great for this team, great in the community,” Brady said. “I can’t say enough about Matt. I hope he’s back but those decisions aren’t up to me. Matt’s performance speaks for itself.”
The Patriots’ offensive line is in flux after a decade of consistency.
Guard Stephen Neal retired after nine seasons. Guard Logan Mankins was designated as the franchise player, one year after he held out seven games rather than accept the tag; he reported on time this year. Tackle Nick Kaczur, who spent last season on injured reserve, was cut.
The Patriots took Nate Solder, a first-team All-America selection from Colorado, with the 17th pick in the draft, and coach Bill Belichick said he would keep him at left tackle.
Manning reports to camp
INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning has reported to training camp on time.
One day after signing a new five-year, $90 million contract, the only four-time MVP in league history reported to Anderson University along with his teammates Sunday morning. Players aren’t scheduled to practice at the Division III school, about 40 miles northeast of Indy, until Monday.
Manning declined to comment about the deal Sunday morning but was scheduled to speak at a 2 p.m. news conference that will also include Colts owner Jim Irsay and team vice chairman Bill Polian.
Manning did sign autographs for a handful of fans and waved to fans and reporters as he took in his luggage. Indy’s franchise quarterback will be placed on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to rehab from neck surgery in May.
Bucs re-sign Hayward
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have re-signed linebacker Adam Hayward to a three-year contract.
The team announced the deal with the unrestricted free agent on Monday.
Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said Hayward was probably the Bucs’ special teams MVP last year.
In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Hayward has 58 kick-coverage tackles, including a team-best 20 in 2010.
To make room for Hayward on the 90-man training camp roster, the Buccaneers released rookie running back Deonte Jackson.
Also, Tampa Bay worked out in pads for the first time at training camp during its Monday afternoon practice.
Taylor rejoins Dolphins
MIAMI — At the start of a news conference hailing Jason Taylor’s return to the Miami Dolphins, he introduced himself as a third-round draft pick from Akron — which he was in 1997.
Fourteen years later, Taylor seeks a few more sacks and that elusive first Super Bowl ring. He’ll try for them in the uniform he has worn most of his career.
The NFL’s active career sacks leader, who became a free agent when the New York Jets released him in March, signed Monday to rejoin the Dolphins.
“This is home,” he said. “It fits. It’s easy. It works.”
Taylor, who turns 37 on Sept. 1, spent his first 11 seasons with the Dolphins and still lives in South Florida. He played for Washington in 2008, then rejoined the Dolphins in 2009, and last year he had hoped for an offer to remain in Miami.
But Taylor clashed with Dolphins football czar Bill Parcells and signed instead with their biggest rival, the Jets. Even then, he maintained a good relationship with Miami coach Tony Sparano.
Parcells’ departure last season made Taylor’s return possible.
“We can address the elephant in the room,” Taylor said. “Do I honestly think I’d be here if Bill was here? No. It’s as simple as that. I think it’s very easy to see and figure out, and we’ll leave it at that.”
The Taylor-Dolphins reunion was announced on the Facebook page for his foundation. Hours later, he held a news conference at the team’s stadium before an evening practice there, and he’ll join workouts later this week.
Former Dolphins teammate Dan Marino tweeted, “Welcome back to Miami (hash)99.”
Sparano said Taylor will provide locker-room leadership and be used primarily at outside linebacker in pass-rush situations, which was his role with the Jets. That means spelling second-year pro Koa Misi and lining up on the flank opposite Cameron Wake, who had a breakout season with 14 sacks last year.
Sparano said he had been mulling over bringing back Taylor for a while.
“This guy is a tremendous closer,” Sparano said. “He makes plays at the end of games.”
Miami terminated the contract of inside linebacker Tim Dobbins, a sixth-year pro who started six games last year.
When the NFL lockout ended last week, Taylor said, he spoke with the Jets first and then Miami. His desire to keep playing is driven in large part by wanting to reach the Super Bowl.
Last year he made the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and the Jets’ loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game left him fighting back tears.
Taylor was also disappointed to have only five sacks in 2010. That increased his career total to 132½, which tied him with Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O’Neal for eighth on the career list. He played in all 16 games for the Jets, including five as a starter.
The six-time Pro Bowler holds Dolphins career records for sacks (124), opponents’ fumble recoveries (27), fumble returns for touchdowns (6), defensive touchdowns (9) and interceptions by a defensive lineman (7). His best season was in 2006, when he was the NFL defensive player of the year.
Conveniently, the Dolphins’ No. 99 was unassigned.