Patriots officially sign Wilson; Hartline released

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Patriots officially sign Wilson; Hartline released

Now that the NFL's CBA makes it easier to determine how much rookies will be paid, first-year players are being signed at a breakneck pace around the league this offseason.

The Patriots officially got in on the act Tuesday, announcing that they have signed second-round pick Tavon Wilson. The defensive back from Illinois was the 48th overall selection in the 2012 draft.

Wilson is the first of New England's seven draft picks to sign after being one of the team's most surprising selections this spring. Though it was widely expected that the Patriots would improve their secondary through the draft, Wilson -- who wasn't invited to the NFL Combine -- was scarcely mentioned by pundits in the weeks leading up to draft weekend.

The Patriots, however, were undaunted in their pursuit of the athletic and versatile defensive back. Wilson played both safety and cornerback in college, and he should compete for time immediately in what was a very fluid secondary last season.

Terms of the contract were not announced, but Fox Sports reported last week that it is a four-year deal.

The Patriots also announced the release of quarterback Mike Hartline. Hartline, 23, had been signed to a future contract by the Patriots back in January.

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”