Brandon McGowan has re-signed with the New England Patriots of the National Football League.
The former University of Maine star missed all of last season with a chest injury after having a productive 2009-10 campaign for coach Bill Belichick’s squad.
Two of McGowan’s former Black Bear teammates, Lofa Tatupu and Stephen Cooper, are testing the free-agent market.
McGowan, Cooper and Tatupu have the distinction of having played together on coach Jack Cosgrove’s 2002 UMaine team that reached the NCAA Division I-AA national quarterfinals.
Two other former Black Bears have hooked up with pro teams recently as Mark Masterson signed a free-agent deal Monday with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and Daren Stone hooked on with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
Matt Boutwell of the Maine Sports Network reported the Masterson signing Monday night.
UMaine’s other NFL representatives are Mike DeVito and West Enfield native Matt Mulligan of the New York Jets, Montell Owens of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs.
McGowan, 27, set career bests with 66 tackles, 10 passes defended, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery two seasons ago. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound defensive back started his career with the Chicago Bears (2005-08), where he also struggled with knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries.
Tatupu was cut by Seattle Sunday after he reportedly declined to restructure his contract. The 28-year-old linebacker had spent his first six NFL seasons with the Seahawks.
The 6-foot, 250-pound Tatupu earned three Pro Bowl selections and helped spark Seattle to the Super Bowl during his rookie season in 2005. He also has been prone to injuries, having missed most of the 2009-10 season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Tatupu, who played one season at UMaine prior to transferring to Southern California — where he helped the Trojans win two national championships — underwent surgery on both knees during this past offseason.
Cooper, 32, has become a free agent after eight seasons with San Diego. He appeared in 12 games last season, starting 11, and registered 43 tackles. Cooper had a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles.
The 6-1, 235-pound linebacker has played 120 career NFL games, racking up 501 total tackles. Cooper, who missed four games last season with injury issues, has been mentioned in some published reports as a possible addition to the Kansas City Chiefs roster.
In other news involving former UMaine players, Daren Stone has resurfaced in the Canadian Football League.
The former Bears defensive back, who completed his collegiate career in 2006, has signed on with the Calgary Stampeders. He has appeared in one game this summer and has made two tackles.
Stone, 25, began his pro career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007-08. He did stints with Dallas and Baltimore the next season, but did not stick in the NFL.
The 6-3, 215-pounder is playing a linebacker spot for Calgary, which is 3-2 this season. Stone and McGowan also played together at UMaine in 2003 and 2004.
Masterson, 23, ended an injury-marred, five-year career with UMaine last fall. The 6-2, 240-pound linebacker, who earned the nickname “Money Down” from Cosgrove because of his propensity for making big plays on third down, was an undrafted free agent.
Masterson appeared in nine games last fall, making 26 tackles with an interception and a forced fumble for UMaine. His prospects likely were aided by the fact former Black Bear Brian Gaine, a 1995 grad, is the Dolphins’ director of player personnel.
Editor’s note: This post was corrected to add the name of Matt Mulligan to the list of former UMaine players now on NFL rosters.