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Free-agent DT Ricky Jean Francois moving on from the Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who helped add depth down the home stretch and into the playoffs for the New England Patriots, said through his public relations agency that he is moving on from the team in 2018. Jean Francois thanked the Patriots in the process.

"I plan on continuing to play at the highest level. Hopefully I made a strong case for myself this past season," Jean Francois said. "I did absolutely everything I could to help the Patriots during my short time there, and I learned that playbook immediately. It takes a special type of player and discipline to do that so quickly. My priority right now is to find a stable home where I can step in and make a similar impact for a few more seasons before I ride off into the sunset."

Jean Francois, 31, was initially signed by the Patriots on Nov. 7 to add depth at a time when starter Malcom Brown was sidelined with an ankle injury. He played in three games, was released Dec. 2, and then re-signed on Dec. 13 after Alan Branch injured his knee.

Jean Francois played the final six games of the season -- three in the regular season, three in the playoffs -- and head coach Bill Belichick complimented him at Super Bowl LII as a good example for younger players.

The 6-foot-3, 313-pound Jean Francois, who owns 30 Dunkin' Donuts franchises and had initially joked upon signing that he was in Dunkin' Donuts heaven, has played for the 49ers (2009-12), Colts (2013-14), Redskins (2015-16), Packers (2017) and Patriots (2017).

His stop in New England made an impression on him.

"I'd like to thank Robert Kraft, Coach Belichick, Coach Patricia and the Patriots front office for allowing me to be a part of something that not a lot of players get the opportunity to do -- play for the New England Patriots," he said. "Playing in Foxboro made me appreciate this game a lot more. Thank you to everyone there for giving me a great experience that I'll remember for the rest of my life. …

"My NFL journey has been a blessing. Lots of other people would love to be where I have been. Whenever I get the opportunity to sit back, I think about how lucky I've been to be able to be a part of so many successful franchises. Last season, I got to be a part of what New England has and I gained some insight into why they're at the top year after year. Those lessons and continuing to grow and learn help me enjoy football that much more."

As for the Patriots' plans at defensive tackle, they have Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine and Adam Butler on the depth chart.