New England Patriots: Jabaal Sheard Ranked as Top 50 Free Agent
By Nick Ziegler
Pro Football Focus recently released their list for the Top 50 free agents this offseason. Where did New England Patriots defensive end Jabaal Sheard rank?
The New England Patriots had an extremely successful 2016 season, as they were able to win Super Bowl LI. While their offense gets most of the credit, their defense really played well throughout the year.
On the defensive side of the ball, many worried how the Patriots would do after they traded Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns during the season. Collins was arguably their best pass-rusher, and most believed that it would have affected the Patriots’ defense.
Despite the trade, the Patriots defense was able to do just fine without Collins. One of the ways the Patriots were able to generate pressure on the quarterback was because of their depth at defensive end.
The rotation of Trey Flowers, Chris Long, Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard really kept them all fresh to succeed in pass-rushing situations. Like many other players on the Patriots, Sheard is a free agent this offseason.
In 2015, Sheard had a really nice season for the Patriots, as he was able to total eight sacks. Due to a little less playing time this season, his production went down.
Despite having five sacks this season, Sheard was still ranked as the 27th best free agent this offseason by Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus. Here’s what Monson had to say about Sheard.
"A year ago, Sheard was coming off the best season of his career for the Patriots, and though they dialed back his playing time a little this year, he still played just seven fewer snaps over the entire season than he did in 2015 (albeit with an extra game in the Super Bowl giving him an extra 94 possible). Sheard is a capable player against the run and pass and can play across different schemes and roles. He may never be an All-Pro, but he can be a valuable part of a team’s defensive front."
Having the strong rotation at defensive end was certainly a strength for the Patriots last season. With plenty of free agents to sign, the Patriots will have to prioritize where their money is spent.
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Because Sheard is a good player, a team might offer him more than the Patriots are willing to match. With the emergence of Trey Flowers this season, the Patriots might feel comfortable with utilizing him more in 2017.