ESPN Boston reported yesterday that the New England Patriots did not place a claim on defensive end Jason Babin, who was just released by the Philadelphia Eagles mainly due to character issues. He’s been viewed as a potential pass rushing target for the Patriots in light of the four-game suspension given to Jermaine Cunningham and the injury to Chandler Jones, but the Pats decision to not plac a claim on him is unsurprising.
Babin’s contract if claimed is too bloated and not a commitment the Pats need to bring on at this point, especially since Cunningham isn’t going to be out for the season and Jones should be able to return soon (no walking boot). While Babin is a talented, explosive pass rusher, a large part of his production comes from the Wide-9 technique that Jim Washburn has used with the Tennessee Titans and Eagles.
I do think that Babin needs to get more credit for his play against the run, which has been much better recently than it used to be back when he played for the Houston Texans and Titans. However, Bill Belichick has his defensive ends doing much different things than Washburn does in Philly. Ends on the Patriots need to be strong against the run, and that’s not a strength of Babin’s. Rob Ninkovich, Jones, Cunningham, and Trevor Scott are all solid against the run- Ninko and Jones are two of the best 4-3 DEs against the run.
The Patriots should talk to Babin and see how much money he wants (and years, hopefully just one) if he clears waivers. For this to happen, the Pats also need to feel like they need to go out and invest in a player who doesn’t necessarily fit their scheme. Babin is just as appealing of an option as Ray Edwards, which isn’t exactly a vote of confidence. I don’t think the Pats need a DE anyway, and the pickings are slim.
Babin is a better pass rusher than Edwards and has produced more over the past two seasons, but Edwards used to be better and would fit the Patriots scheme better. He will also likely go for less money on a one-year rental to prove himself again, and he has less behavior concerns as well. If the Patriots truly think they need to get more pass rushing help (the Pats pass rush isn’t exactly a strength even with everyone healthy), then these are clearly their two best options. Babin is the better player, but Edwards is the better fit. It’s really a matter of preference between them, and it likely comes down to which player is cheaper. I personally think the Pats should stay put, unless if the deal is too good to pass up on.
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