The Patriots finally jumped into the free agency pool Friday as they signed Buffalo Bills wide receiver Chris Hogan, a restricted free agent.

Jabaal Sheard brought down Bills receiver Chris Hogan in the fourth quarter. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)
Jabaal Sheard brought down Bills receiver Chris Hogan in the fourth quarter. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)

The Patriots offered Hogan a three-year, $12 million deal. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that New England front loaded the deal — giving Hogan $5.5 million for this season. Late on Friday, the Bills notified the NFL they will not match the offer and that Hogan is now a member of the Patriots.

Bill Belichick is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle like he did when the Patriots signed Wes Welker in 2007. Welker was a little used slot receiver for the Dolphins when the Patriots signed him to an offer sheet.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Hogan had 36 catches for a career high 450 yards for Buffalo last season. He played well against the Patriots in Week 11, catching six passes for 95 yards. He’s a well-rounded athlete who played baseball in high school and lacrosse at Penn State. Hogan played only one season of college football, at Monmouth.

Chris Hogan“He could shoot the ball in lacrosse 106 miles per hour with his left hand and 100 miles per hour with his right hand,” said his high school coach Bob Turco in a 2014 interview. “To run a 4.4 40 and shoot the ball that hard is very rare. He had a great first step.”

The 27-year-old Hogan — who has played for the 49ers, Giants, Dolphins, and Bills — was a frequent focus on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ coverage of Dolphins camp in 2012, earning the nickname ‘7-Eleven’ because in the eyes of Miami running back Reggie Bush, Hogan was “always open.” So maybe they should have nicknamed him “Store 24?”

“At two-years old he was hitting a golf ball,” said Chris’s father Jim Hogan in 2014. “He was a lefty, but he was hitting a righty club and hitting it pretty good with the back end of the club head. His eye-hand coordination was always good, even then.”

Hogan would give the Patriots insurance if they decide to move on from Danny Amendola. Or he would add to the team another versatile-type receiver that Bill Belichick has cherished through the years.

Dirty Water Sports’ Steve Silva contributed to this report.