Patriots. (US PRESSWIRE)

A week before the 2012 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots reportedly hosted three veteran free-agent running backs: Joseph Addai, Ryan Grant and Tim Hightower. On Saturday, the Pats appear set to sign Addai, the former Colts first-round pick, according to … former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who spilled the beans to the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell. Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard confirmed through a league source that New England and Addai had agreed to a contract.

This offseason, New England let BenJarvus Green-Ellis walk (he's now with the Bengals), and longtime stalwart Kevin Faulk remains a free agent. Despite drafting two backs in 2011 -- Shane Vereen in Round 2, Stevan Ridley in Round 3 -- Danny Woodhead was the only player at the position with more than one season of experience.

Addai, originally taken 30th overall in 2006, was released on March 9. In six NFL seasons, the 29-year-old rushed for 4,453 yards (4.1 YPC) and 39 touchdowns, and added 191 receptions. He played in 12 games last season, managing 433 yards on 118 carries, and saw action in just eight games in 2010 because of a shoulder injury.

Belichick is no stranger to signing or trading for veterans on the downsides of solid careers, and he usually finds a way to get the most out of them. Corey Dillion and Randy Moss come to mind, although Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth prove that even the seemingly omniscient head coach makes mistakes. But Addai won't be asked to start. Instead, he'll likely be used as a pass-catcher coming out of the backfield or a third-down blocking back, two areas where he excels.

While the Pats haven't made any big-name free-agent signings this offseason, they have been busily adding depth to the roster. In addition to Addai, New England has landed Bobby Carpenter, Will Allen, Jonathan Fanene, Daniel Fells, Jabar Gaffney, Robert Gallery, Steve Gregory, as well as Anthony Gonzalez, another former Colts' first-rounder.

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