One year later, veteran safety Patrick Chung is set to return to the Patriots.
Chung, who was signed as a free agent by the Eagles last season after four seasons in New England, was re-signed by the Patriots on Thursday. The 26-year-old, who was a second-round pick of New England in 2009, said the chance to get back to Foxboro “was like a blessing.”
“I’m glad to be back,” he said Thursday on a conference call with the media. “It’s like family here. It feels like home. I’m glad to be back. I love the fans, love the coaches, love the environment, love the city.”
Chung’s finest season with the Patriots came in 2010 when he played in 14 games (13 starts) and finished the year with 96 tackles (72 solo), nine passes defensed and three interceptions, all career-highs. Following the 2012 season, he ended up signing a three-year, $10 million free agent deal with the Eagles. In Philly last year, he played in 12 games and ended with 59 tackles, but struggled at times playing for his old college coach Chip Kelly with the Eagles.
New England figured to be in the market for some safety help when Steve Gregory was cut loose earlier this offseason, and while he won’t be guaranteed his old roster spot, Chung could provide some depth for the Patriots secondary.
“I don’t feel I’m any different,” Chung said. “I’m just going to continue to keep working, keep getting better, whatever I can do to help the team, whatever role I might have to play. I feel I’m the same. The scheme, I guess, would fit a lot better. I’ve had a lot of conversations so I just feel like this would be the best fit right now. Plus, I’m really glad to be back too. I’ve missed you guys.
“I don’t have any expectations,” he added. “Whatever Bill [Belichick] need me to do, this team, I’m going to do it. Regardless if it’s special team or it’s defense, whatever my role is here, I’m OK with that. This is where I want to be, so that’s good for me. I’m not worried about all the distractions, ‘Am I going to be playing, am I going to be doing this?’ Whatever I can do to help the team win, then I’m good.”
Here are more highlights of Chung’s Thursday afternoon Q&A with the media.
Can you tell us why things didn’t work out in Philadelphia and why you think things will be better back here?
“I can’t really tell you why things didn’t work out in Philly. I don’t make those decisions. You know, Philly is a great city, there are a lot of great people there; great locker room, great coaches. But I feel now that this has happened, I feel like it’s a better fit here. I’ve been here for four years. I know the system, I know the coaches. The coaches are cool. I know most of the players. All locker rooms change but I know most of the players. This is a good environment. I’ve been here for a while so I feel like part of me is home. I’m always going to come back here regardless. I always came back here to help the city regardless of where I was. Now I’m back in the city that gave me my very first chance, my very first opportunity, so I feel like its home.”
Can you describe how quickly this all came together? When you were released did you have any idea you would be coming back to New England?
“I had no clue. I got released. I just started training so I was prepared for an opportunity when an opportunity presented itself. I got the call and I was excited. I was happy. I was relieved. It was very, very, very easy decision. It didn’t really take much. I had no idea where I was going, what the plan was for me. But we figured something out and I’m happy it all worked out.”
Does it make it a lot easier for you to do your charity work in the area this summer?
“Yeah, I’m going to be doing a lot of charity work. But regardless of where I am, I’m always going to do charity work and help the city that gave me my first chance. You can’t forget about people that helped you out.”
What are your thoughts on coming in and playing with Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis?
“Those are two very good players. I’m very excited to have players like that on our team, on our defense that really believe they’ll help the team. Bill [Belichick] is going to put everybody in the right situation and the right position to make plays. You have two playmakers right there on the outside. It definitely helps. I’m very excited.”
Do you think that will change the defensive philosophy from when you were here in 2012?
“I’m not a coach so I can’t tell what is going to happen or what defense we might be running. That’s more of a question for the coaches but Coach [Belichick] is going to put our team in the right situation, the right position. Whatever Coach has in mind, whatever he has in store, it will be good for us. We’ll be all right.”
How would you characterize your time in New England?
“It’s awesome. I love the city, I love the people, I love the fans. It’s an all-around good city. I love Boston.”