David Patten hasn't played since 2008

The Patriots on Wednesday signed wide receiver David Patten, who played with New England from 2001-04 but was not in the NFL last season after being cut by the Cleveland Browns in training camp.

The 35-year-old Patten's last action came with the New Orleans Saints in 2008, when he appeared in five games and had 11 receptions for 162 yards and one touchdown. In 2007, Patten had enjoyed a nice comeback season with the Saints, catching 54 passes for 792 yards and three touchdowns.

Patten played on all three of the Patriots' Super Bowl-winning teams. During his four-year tenure with the Patriots, Patten caught 165 passes for 2,513 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season and added 15 receptions for 174 yards with two touchdowns in the postseason. The best season of his 12-year career also came in New England in 2004, when he had 800 yards receiving and seven touchdowns.

Patten adds a veteran presence at a position where the Patriots are young and adds depth as well, which is important considering the uncertain timeline on the return of Wes Welker after knee surgery.

Since Patten was out of football in 2009, it would be a stretch to call him a lock for a roster spot. But this isn't one of those sign-and-retire type contracts. The Patriots saw enough of Patten in a workout to believe he could possibly help -- at the very least in offseason work.

Another aspect of the Patten signing that is noteworthy is the locker room dynamic.

After a season in which the Patriots didn't always seem to have all 53 players pulling in the same direction, Patten brings a professionalism to a room that could only benefit those around him, however long he is around in his second stint with the team. That should benefit young receivers such as Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman.

Patten started his career with the Giants in 1997 and has played for the Giants, Patriots, Redskins and Saints.

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.