Leon Washington is a professional kick returner, a bona fide game changer on special teams, and he is now a member of the New England Patriots. Late Thursday afternoon, league officials announced that New England inked the running back/return specialist.
Washington, who last played with the Seattle Seahawks, now returns to the AFC East where he toiled for the New York Jets for 4 seasons after being drafted by the team in 2006 out of Florida State University in the fourth round.
Washington, who will be 31 when the season starts, is expected to fill a rather large void for the Patriots in the return game. Last season New England had Devin McCourty return kickoffs out of necessity and had Julian Edelman and Wes Welker returning punts. Welker is now in Denver and Edelman is still unsigned as an unrestricted free agent.
The Patriots also added Danny Amendola who has returned both kickoffs and punts in his career. They had hoped that former Florida Gator running back and return specialist Jeff Demps would fill that void but it appears that Demps has told the team he wants to return to track and field and forego the NFL.
As a return specialist Washington had over 1100 yards in returns in 2012 and 1 TD. In his career he has 8 kickoff return TD’s a NFL record he shares ironically with Josh Cribbs, who the Patriots had expressed interest in during free agency. Twice he has had 2 kickoff return TD’s in a game, once as a Jet and once with the Seahawks and he holds the record for both teams for most kickoff return TD’s in franchise history having four with each team.
I also expect you will see him some in the running/passing game possibly primarily as the third down back in the role Kevin Faulk filled so well for many years.
In his career, he has 6315 KOR yards, 2213 rushing yards and 1127 receiving yards and has 26 total touchdowns.
He is a two time Pro Bowl selection, a three time All-Pro, was the 2008 Special Teams Player of the Year and a recipient of the Ed Block Courage award.
This is a great signing by Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Seahawks fans are still raving about him as a player and as a class act in the community.
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photo credit: getty images