Patriots sign former Utah D-lineman L.T. Tuipulotu
L.T. Tuipulotu received just one call after the NFL draft, from Green Bay.
He attended their rookie mini-camp and received positive reviews, but his agent, Aaron Gordon, says Tuipulotu was on "standby" for an undrafted free agent contract until a spot opened up.
The former Ute told The Tribune by phone Thursday night that he was starting to think about Plan B — as in, life after football.
He was back in Utah watching his young son, Tevita, on Wednesday when Gordon called "out of nowhere and told me to get ready to be on the plane in three hours."
The Patriots were interested in the 23-year-old defensive tackle. He flew in to Boston at midnight and then woke up at 5 a.m. for a private workout — similar to Pro Day but with more individual drills, he said.
He had planned to catch a 3 p.m. flight back, but he was delayed.
By a contract offer.
New England signed Tuipulotu to an undrafted free agent deal, granting him a new lease on his football life.
The first thing he did was to FaceTime Tevita and his wife, Jessica. Among those to congratulate him later was former Utah defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, who also plays for New England.
"He was very happy," Tuipulotu said. "He told me all I have to do is work hard. He asked me about [the workout] and I told him that I just did the same thing that I did in Utah: Finish everything that you do."
Asked if he was tired after such a long day, he said he wasn't.
"Everything happened so fast today."
The deal is for three years at the undrafted free agent minimum. Tuipulotu, who had 42 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 11 starts last year, will now of course have to fight to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
— Matthew Piper