This article debuted on SportsHaze.com/Boston
The New England Patriots announced the signing of free agent defensive lineman Marcus Stroud earlier today; the length of the deal is reportedly two years.
Stroud, who will be 33 in June, was released by the Buffalo Bills on February 16th, and was free to sign with any team as a ten year veteran. He was made expendable in Buffalo due to the play of 2010 third round pick Alex Carrington, and would have cost the team $4.5 million in 2011 had they kept him onboard.
The signing is an instant depth stabilizer for New England’s defensive front. Stroud is capable of putting some pressure on the quarterback (he’s averaged three sacks a season over his career), but has graded out poorly against the run over the last two seasons.
He was expected to garner interest from teams running a 4-3 defensive scheme, and it’s mildly perplexing as to why both player and team saw New England as the best fit—considering the 3-4 scheme the Patriots run. Before he was traded to Buffalo in 2007, Stroud played seven seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 4-3 system.
Stroud was drafted in 2001 as the 13th overall selection by Jacksonville out of Georgia. The Patriots selected his college teammate Richard Seymour six picks earlier in the same Draft, and Gerard Warren, whom New England signed on Draft day last season, was selected 3rd overall in 2001 as well. Now a free agent, Warren may or may not be brought back after the addition of Stroud.
The 2011 defensive line appears to be coming into form, and already looks more promising than the 2010 unit.
Pro-Bowler Vince Wilfork will return at the helm as nose tackle, and will be joined by Ty Warren—who missed the entire season last year following hip surgery. Warren is expected to regain his starting job at one of the end positions with the other starter still to be determined.
Stroud, Mike Wright, Ron Brace, and Brandon Deaderick are all in-house options at end. They join Myron Pryor, Kyle Love, Landon Cohen, Darryl Richard, and Marlon Favorite on a solid looking defensive front with a good mix of youth and veteran presence.
The Stroud signing may or may not affect the drafting strategy, depending on the role they expect him to have. Whether he ends up being a rotational player, or seeing a lot of snaps, the veteran is considered a great locker room presence and should fit in well.