New England Patriots

Oct 14, 2018, London, United Kingdom: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin catches a pass as Oakland Raiders defensive back Obi Melifonwu defends during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the Raiders 27-3. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Oct 14, 2018, London, United Kingdom: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin catches a pass as Oakland Raiders defensive back Obi Melifonwu defends during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the Raiders 27-3. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The New England Patriots are adding a new player on Monday, agreeing to a deal with free-agent former Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the signing, crediting Melifonwu’s agent Sean Stellato.

Melifonwu visited the Patriots back on Oct. 26, just three days after being released from the Raiders. The safety originally went to Oakland with the 56th pick in the second round of the 2017 draft. Bill Belichick reportedly met with him before the draft.

Apparently, the head coach was still very much interested in Melifonwu. He’s big (6-foot-3, 224 pounds) and athletic, and it sure looks like Belichick feels he can find a way to use him better than the Raiders ever did.

Oct 14, 2018; London, UK: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin catches a pass as Oakland Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu defends during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Seahawks beat the Raiders 27-3. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Oct 14, 2018; London, UK: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin catches a pass as Oakland Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu defends during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Seahawks beat the Raiders 27-3. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The real issue with Melifonwu could be health. He’s battled various injuries over the first two seasons of his career. But clearly, Belichick feels it’s too early to give up on him as an NFL player.

Melifonwu will have opportunities to work in coverage for the Patriots, who have been inconsistent in space at safety and linebacker, particularly against tight ends. The hope is that he can use his size to his advantage and realize his potential as a former second-round pick with Belichick and Brian Flores coaching him up.

The Raiders also recently released linebacker Bruce Irvin, who reportedly wants to play for a contending team. Perhaps Belichick makes him the 2018 version of James Harrison.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.