As Wes Welker began blending in with the Broncos and Danny Woodhead was bolting for the Chargers, the Patriots were racking up phone bills, straining their trainers and doing laps to the printer yesterday at Gillette Stadium.

It was by far the Pats’ busiest day of free agency. They lost another key player, but were still working to get a plan ready for the upcoming season.

Woodhead joined the faithful departed. Like Welker, he turned down an offer from the Patriots and went to the AFC West on a superior two-year deal. Woodhead was a fan favorite and a reliable offensive option, but he was deemed replaceable. The Patriots already had similar change-of-pace backs in Shane Vereen and Jeff Demps, and they signed Leon Washington on Thursday.


It wasn’t easy for Woodhead to leave after three successful seasons here, but eight teams showed varying levels of interest. The Chargers offered an opportunity that was far too strong to pass up.

“There’s a part of me that’s sad,” said Chris Gittings, who represents Woodhead. “We’ll have lifetime memories of the time in New England. (Woodhead) felt a special relationship with the fans. He loved them, and he knew they loved him. He was very appreciative of the opportunity the Patriots gave him.”