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Of course, the most reliable pass rush generally comes from the edge, Geno Atkins notwithstanding. Chandler Jones appears poised for a breakout, and we can probably chalk up Rob Ninkovich for something like seven to nine sacks.
But the Patriots will likely need someone to supplement their top two rushers, especially if either one is sidelined or encumbered for a long stretch. Apart from a seven-sack outlier in Week 17 against the Dolphins, the Patriots recorded only 10 sacks in seven regular-season games after Jones' ankle injury, including just one in two playoff games.
At the moment, New England appears to have more quantity than quality among their potential candidates. Justin Francis and Jermaine Cunningham showed flashes last season, while Jake Bequette, Jason Vega and Michael Buchanan are relative unknowns with upside. Second-rounder Jamie Collins tallied 10 sacks last year at Southern Miss, but his versatility could have him dropping back in coverage as often as rushing the quarterback.
One other solution may be John Abraham. Patriots fans have been clamoring for the former Jet and Falcon since free agency's inception, but according to Josh Alper of PFT, his salary and playing time demands have scared off teams to date:
At the time, the amount of playing time Abraham would get with the Titans was reportedly the sticking point in talks between the two sides. A league source told PFT that Abraham was looking for 60+ snaps a game (and, most likely, the salary that comes with such a prominent role) while the Titans and other interested teams want him to play a situational role.
The Patriots certainly won't meet those demands from Abraham. But if the 35-year-old is willing to come on as a situational rusher and accept a one-year, $2.5 million type of deal, not unlike the one Andre Carter signed in 2011, that could bring him to Foxboro.