Patriots sign Ramon Humber, release Dane Fletcher

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The Patriots avoided making any splashy moves as free agency opened on Wednesday, opting instead to target a linebacker who profiles as a regular on their special teams.

The team announced that they have signed former Saints linebacker Ramon Humber. Humber spent the last six years with the Saints and was a core member of their special teams units for much of his time in New Orleans. The Patriots credited him with 75 special teams tackles for his career in their release announcing the move.

He has seen some time on defense as well with 13 starts over the last three seasons. He had 126 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three passes defensed over that span.

The Patriots also announced that they have released linebacker Dane Fletcher. Fletcher returned to the team in 2015 after spending a year with the Buccaneers, but missed the entire season with a knee injury. Christopher Price of WEEI reports that Fletcher will retire.

He was expected to play a leading role on special teams for the Patriots before getting hurt, which may explain why his departure is linked to Humber’s arrival.