The deal ended a stellar and stormy seven-year stay with the Bengals, who built their offense around him in the 1990s but tired of his complaining and his lobbying to play elsewhere.
Dillon, who turns 30 in October, wound up going to the defending Super Bowl champions, who are trying to improve a running game that was one of their few weaknesses.
"I think everybody pretty much broke even," Dillon said. "We're talking about the New England Patriots. They're the defending Super Bowl champs. They got exactly what they wanted. I guess Cincinnati got exactly what they wanted. Corey Dillon got exactly what he wanted. I'm happy. It's a good deal all around, I think."
Dillon, 29, wasn't happy during the Bengals' renaissance season under coach Marvin Lewis. While the Bengals stayed in playoff contention, Dillon groused about his lack of carries and lobbied for a trade.
"I set a couple of records in Cincinnati, so I'm always going to have love for Cincinnati and that fan base,'' Dillon said. "But today is a new day. I'm just going to finish what I started in
Cincinnati in New England. It's the first time I've been this excited about a season since I've been in college."
A groin injury sidelined Dillon and allowed Rudi Johnson to show he could be the Bengals' featured back. When the season ended, Dillon cleaned out his locker and lobbied for a trade.
Lewis tried to get Dillon to take more of a leadership role last season, but was rebuffed. Dillon's public complaints in the middle of a turnaround season essentially sealed his fate.
"Corey has been a very productive back for the Bengals for a number of years," Lewis said in a statement. "But you don't get a second-round pick without giving something up, and we believe this clearly is the move that's in our team's best interests."
Lewis declined to comment beyond the statement. The trade brought Cincinnati the 24th pick in the second round, 56th overall, and gave the Bengals seven picks in the first four rounds overall.
New England had obtained the pick from Miami.
New England gets the type of back that it coveted for an unbalanced offense. The Patriots had the league's 27th-ranked rushing attack behind Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk last season, forcing them to rely on Tom Brady's short, high-percentage completions to get points.
Brady led the Patriots to 15 straights wins last season, culminating in a 32-29 victory over Carolina in the Super Bowl. A week later, the Patriots decided not to exercise their contract option on Smith, who was their leading rusher for the past three seasons.
"Corey joins Kevin Faulk and our other very good backs to deepen an already competitive running back position," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
The Patriots likely were not going to get a crack at the first running back in the draft Saturday, believed to be Steven Jackson of Oregon State. The Broncos moved to the 17th pick in the first round, giving teams around the league the idea they were going to take Jackson.
The Raiders and Bengals had conversations about a trade weeks ago, but could not agree on a deal. The Bengals wanted a second-round pick. The Raiders were willing to give up a third-rounder and were going to be patient in trying to get the price.
Dillon was a second-round pick in 1997 -- the 43rd overall -- and broke Jim Brown's rookie record by running for 246 yards against Tennessee. He set the single-game record with 278 yards against Denver in 2000, a mark eclipsed last season when Baltimore's Jamal Lewis had 295 yards against Cleveland.
Heading into last season, Dillon was the Bengals' career rushing leader and one of only four players in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons. A groin injury -- the first
significant injury of his career -- limited him to 11 starts and 541 yards last season.
A traffic accident also prompted the Bengals to declare him inactive for one game.
While the Bengals won without him, Dillon bristled at his lack of carries and told reporters he wanted out. After a loss to Cleveland left the Bengals 8-8 and ended their season, Dillon threw his helmet, shoulder pads and cleats into the stands at Paul Brown Stadium, convinced he would be traded with two years left on his contract.
"They don't need me," Dillon said afterward. "They've been winning, quote unquote, without me."
The Patriots will inherit the remaining two seasons on the five-year contract Dillon signed in 2001, which come with base salaries of $3.3 million for 2004 and $3.85 million for '05. The Bengals must carry a cap charge of $4.2 million for Dillon in 2004 but gain cap relief of $1.3 million.
Dillon renewed his push for a trade last month by going on a national sports talk show dressed in a Raiders jersey. He also lashed out at Pro Bowl offensive tackle Willie Anderson, calling him "a bum." Anderson had criticized Dillon for being selfish while the team was in playoff contention.
Cincinnati hasn't had a winning record since 1990, the longest such streak in the NFL.
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.