Patriots: Best Value Players
5. Jabaal Sheard – two-years, $11 million (one year remaining)
As a rookie, Sheard exploded with the Cleveland Browns, recording 8.5 sacks, 3.5 more than the next closest player on the team. However, Sheard’s production regressed as the Browns moved towards a 3-4 defense with Sheard as an outside linebacker. Signing with New England was a chance to resurrect the former 37th overall draft pick. Some regarded the contract as extremely favorable for the Patriots as a third-down rusher and potential replacement for Rob Ninkovich.
However, Sheard would not end up being Ninkovich’s replacement. Sheard will now shift into a starting role to replace Chandler Jones and his 12.5 sacks last season. Sheard only played in 13 games this past season due to a lingering ankle injury, but he made the most of his opportunities, totaling four forced fumbles, tied second on the team with Jones, and eight sacks. Sheard’s play in his 677 snaps impressed many, even leading to Pro Football Focus listing him on their “Top 25 breakout players of the 2015 season” and grading him as the fifth-best run defender at his position.
These 30 players will definitely make the final roster
With more snaps this upcoming season, Sheard is a true candidate to become a common name in the NFL. Even if he only matched his eight sacks from last season, he would more than earn his $5.5 million average per year.
Next: 4. An Underrated Defensive Asset