Patriots focus on offense as seven free agents make trip to Foxborough

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Of the seven free agents the New England Patriots hosted on Thursday, five were offensive skill-position players. But the defense wasn't completely overlooked as defensive end Frank Kearse (Washington) and defensive back Sherrick McManis (Chicago) were the other two visitors at Gillette Stadium.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Kearse has played with Carolina (2011-2012), Dallas (2013) and Washington (2014-2015). He has eight career starts, split over his first two NFL seasons in Carolina.

Kearse, 27, attended Alabama A&M and this past season he flip-flopped on and off Washington's roster. He could be a depth-based option in New England behind starting defensive tackles Malcom Brown and Alan Branch, as unrestricted free-agent Akiem Hicks could be departing with a visit scheduled with the Bears.

Meanwhile, McManis (6-foot-1, 197 pounds) is a core special teams player who enters his seventh NFL season in 2016. He played for Houston (2010-2011) and Chicago (2012-2015) after entering the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice out of Northwestern. The Bears had acquired McManis in a trade for fullback Tyler Clutts.

McManis could have been be a potential replacement if safety Nate Ebner departs in free agency, but he later agreed to return to the Bears.

In addition to Kearse and McManis, the Patriots hosted receivers Rod Streater and Chris Hogan, running backs Benny Cunningham and James Starks, and tight end Clay Harbor.