Last week, readers of Musket Fire voted on the position the Patriots should focus on most once free agency begins. The outside linebacker position won with 45% of the vote. Therefore, I’ll look at the top five outside linebacker prospects the Patriots could target. Today’s spotlight is on former Minnesota Vikings DE Ray Edwards.
Like yesterday’s spotlight on Jason Babin, DE Ray Edwards would be targeted by the Patriots to fill the need for an outside pass rusher. Edwards has been a reliable pass rusher for the Minnesota Vikings since he started to see more playing time, and posted at least 8 sacks the last two seasons, with most analysts thinking he’s capable of more. Edwards has nearly as many career sacks (29.5) as Jason Babin (30) in three fewer seasons. Like Babin, Edwards would have to transition from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he has the prototypical Bill Belichick OLB size at 6-5, 268. Like I mentioned with Babin yesterday, Edwards could still play some DE in sub packages on passing downs to utilize that pass rushing ability while he learns the OLB position.
Ray Edwards, in many ways, is a better option for the Patriots than Jason Babin. Edwards is younger (26 vs. 31), which would make any long-term contract more meaningful. Also, Edwards has shown more consistency in his shorter career than Babin. Babin had not gotten more than 5 sacks until last season when he exploded for 12.5, while Edwards has steadily improved each year, though he has yet to hit double digits. Also, Ray Edwards’ size is much more prototypical for OLB than Babin, who’s a little shorter (6-3, though still within range to play OLB).
Signing Ray Edwards is not going to be easy, and the Pats may not want to get into a bidding war. Edwards is widely considered one of the top free agents available, and came in at #4 on Pete Priscos’ Top 50 free agents list. However, if the Pats are serious about wanting to improve their pass rush, there are few options, and maybe none better than Ray Edwards.
Ray Edwards by the numbers:
- 2010 Stats: 37 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 passes defensed
- Career Stats: 182 tackles, 29.5 sacks, 11 passes defensed, 6 forced fumbles
- Seasons with 16 starts: 1 (2009)
Previous Free Agent Spotlights: