Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer
The Patriots were busy on Thursday by signing some depth players in free agency, agreeing to deals with DT Mike Pennel (Jets), S Terrence Brooks (Jets), WR Maurice Harris (Redskins), WR Bruce Ellington (Lions) and TE Matt LaCosse (Broncos). The deals for Pennel, Brooks and LaCosse were all for two years, while Ellington's was a one-year pact. Pennel (6-4, 332) is a big-bodied run-stuffer who projects to help fill the void created by Malcom Brown's free-agent departure to New Orleans. Brooks is viewed as a strong special-teams player, while Harris and Ellington have experience in the slot and will vie for roles on a depleted receiver depth chart. The 6-foot-6, 255-pound LaCosse, whose deal has a maximum value of $4.8 million, has some upside at a spot where the club has moved on from Dwayne Allen in the No. 2 role. Add it all up, and Thursday was a day in which the Patriots focused on building depth at lower numbers on the salary cap.