|Free Agent Snaphot: Jason Babin||05.08.11 at 11:22 pm ET|
Despite the labor uncertainty, WEEI.com will present a list of 10 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency (under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement) this offseason.
Position: Defensive end
Age: 30 (will turn 31 on May 24)
While the two previous possibilities we detailed in this space — Matt Roth and Cullen Jenkins — weren’t particularly known as pure pass rushers, Babin will likely be the best pure pass rusher available when free agency begins this offseason. This Western Michigan journeyman — he’s played for five teams in six years — figures to cash in after a 2010 season with Tennessee where he collected 12.5 sacks, a career-best. (He went to his first Pro Bowl as a result.) For what it’s worth, he seems to have come to terms with the idea that the Titans aren’t going to re-sign him, telling reporters, “They told my agent they are letting me go to free agency and passing on the opportunity to sign me to a long-term deal.”
He’s an interesting prospect for New England to consider: Houston’s first-round pick from 2004 can clearly get after the passer — he is a speedy end with an extraordinarily high motor — but he’s not a power guy, and his greatest success has come in 4-3 schemes. And while he is one of the best in the league the last couple of seasons when it comes to sacks, in the past, he has had problems when it comes to setting the edge and providing run support.
But no matter what you think of him, it’s clear Babin has had an eventful offseason: He’s threatened to take his talents to the UFL or the CFL if no labor agreement is reached. In addition, he’s reportedly started mixed martial arts training, and has an eye toward participating in an MMA event sometime this offseason, according to the Tennessean. In March, he said he had a bear-hunting expedition planned for this spring. And this past week, he was named No. 85 on the NFL Network’s presentation of “The Top 100 Players of 2011.”
Why it might not work: As stated, Babin, who will be 31 before the start of the 2011 season, has enjoyed his greatest success in 4-3 defensive sets, and has struggled in 3-4 schemes. Barring a change of New England’s base 3-4 defense, the marriage of Babin and the Patriots might not work. In addition, like Jenkins, Babin had his best season entering free agency — he will likely command one of the heftiest contracts across the league as a result. Despite his 2010 production, on paper, it doesn’t appear to be the most cost-effective move for New England to pursue Babin.
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