The New England Patriots signed quarterback Danny Etling to a four-year rookie deal after taking him in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. While he’s still far from being Tom Brady’s heir-apparent, the Patriots decided to sign Etling ahead of their rookie minicamp. Etling, the No. 219 overall pick, was the first member of the Patriots’ 2018 NFL Draft class to sign a deal. Etling could receive a rookie contract worth $2,488,895, with a signing bonus of $73,895 and a salary cap hit of $498,474, per Spotrac. The collective bargaining agreement mandates that all rookie contracts be predetermined, but negotiations could be conducted regarding guaranteed money, how the bonus money is paid out, and other details like dates of roster bonuses and offset language.

The Patriots were expected to take a quarterback in the first or second round of the 2018 NFL Draft but they used the No. 23 pick to take offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn and the No. 31 selection to acquire running back Sony Michel. Etling tallied a 16-7 record as LSU’s starting quarterback, throwing for 2,463 yards and 16 touchdowns with just two interceptions in his senior year. Etling began his college career at Purdue before he transferred to LSU, where he played for two years. During that span, Etling completed 325-of-544 passes for 4,586 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Joe Thuney to undergo surgery

Left guard Joe Thuney is expected to undergo foot surgery in the coming days, but he is not expected to return in time for the start of the 2018 regular season.

Thuney has been joining the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program, but his participation has been limited as he is preparing for the surgery. He is expected to miss the team’s upcoming organized team activities. If needed, the Patriots could put Wynn at left guard, and could move Trent Brown, LaAdrian Waddle, Cole Croston or Matt Tobin to left tackle.

Ted Karras, the team’s 2016 sixth-round pick, could also be an option for the Patriots at left guard if he’s still with the team. The signing of Luke Bowanko provides the Patriots with needed depth as he can play center or guard.

OL Jason King released

In another move, the Patriots released offensive lineman Jason King, who signed a futures contract with New England on February 6.

The Patriots signed King as a rookie free agent in 2017, but he was released before the start of the regular season. The Patriots signed King to their practice squad on September 20, but released him days later. After a short stint with the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad, King made it to the Patriots’ regular-season roster on November 28. However, the Patriots released him on December 2. With the move, the Patriots made room on their 90-man roster for any of their nine rookies.