Welcome to our sixth installment in a 12-part series in which we are forecasting the 2016 production of each of the New England Patriots’ offseason veteran additions. Today, we’re projecting the debut season of Terrance Knighton in a Patriots uniform.
In case you missed them, here are three recent installments in the series:
The skinny: Thanks to Vince Wilfork’s encouraging, Pot Roast spurned the Washington Redskins and signed a deal with the Patriots involving over $4 million in guaranteed money. Knighton appeared in all but one game for the Redskins last season; as luck would have it, the only game he missed was the Week 8 tilt against the Patriots in New England.
Pessimistic forecast: Knighton’s weight becomes an issue, even though he says it won’t. As the dog days of summer take its toll on Knighton (he turns 30 on Jul. 4), it becomes clear that Pot Roast is best suited as the Patriots’ No. 4 defensive tackle behind Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and Dominique Easley. Even Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Markus Kuhn, Chris Jones and Joe Vellano push to be placed above Knighton on the depth chart.
Pessimistic stats projection: 20 combined tackles
Optimistic forecast: Knighton becomes a revelation in New England, overtaking fellow longtime NFL defensive lineman Branch on the depth chart and pushing out oft-injured but athletic Easley for the No. 2 spot behind Brown. The Patriots benefit from having their largest nose tackle since Wilfork, providing beef in the middle of one of the league’s best front sevens.
Ever since the nightmare defensive tackle situation in 2013, Bill Belichick has been stocking up at the position. In the best case scenario, Knighton renews his stardom and the Patriots look sly for picking him up on the back end of free agency.
Optimistic stats projection: 38 combined tackles, 2 sacks, interception (pick-six)
Realistic forecast: Knighton is all the Patriots need him to be, a dependable veteran to spell up-and-comers Brown and Easley in the defensive tackle rotation. When and if the injury bug strikes the defensive line, Knighton picks up the slack. He enters the regular season as the No. 3 option, holding off veterans Branch, Kitchen, Jones, Kuhn and Vellano.
Realistic stats projection: 29 combined tackles, sack
Stay tuned here on Musket Fire for coverage on every twist and turn in the Patriots’ offseason.