The New England Patriots biggest weakness over the past couple of seasons has been a lack of a pass rush, and they made a few moves last offseason in an effort to spark a better pass rush. Not only did they draft “elephant” rushers Jamie Collins and Michael Buchanan last year, but they also made major pass rushing upgrades at defensive tackle after previously getting no pressure out of their DTs, as they signed both Tommy Kelly and Armond Armstead. Neither player was healthy last season, and Chandler Jones wasn’t as consistent at putting pressure on the QB as the Pats would have liked. Both Jones and Rob Ninkovich are great run defenders- especially Ninko- and can get sacks, but neither are consistent sources of pressure. The injuries at DT prevented the Patriots from getting much real estate out of those guys, and pass rushing still figures to be a big need for the deep Patriots this offseason.
Defensive tackle is usually viewed as one of the team’s three biggest needs this offseason, but I’m sure they would also like to add another defensive end. ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss decided to take a look at potential defensive end upgrades for the Patriots this offseason, and it was interesting to read his comments on Will Smith, who was recently released by the New Orleans Saints.
Reiss believes that Smith “jumps near the top of the list” when looking at possible DE signings, and he could certainly fit as a situational pass rusher at the right price. He was an obvious cut for the Saints, because he didn’t fit the type of edge rusher they were looking for and, more importantly, was set to make a ridiculous amount of money for subpar production.
Smith hasn’t been a quality player ever since recording 13 sacks in 2009, but he has natural talent and figures to be a better fit on the Patriots defense. He’s an intriguing option worth looking at, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pats made a move to sign him, especially since Reiss is pretty good at calling these sorts of moves.