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Examining the growing market for Mark Anderson and what it means for the Patriots

03.20.12 at 10:19 pm ET
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Mark Anderson brings down Tim Tebow. (AP)

Defensive end Mark Anderson continued his tour of the AFC on Tuesday, as the Bills announced that the 28-year-old was going to visit with Bills’ staff on Tuesday night and would also pay a visit to the team facilities on Wednesday. It marks the fourth team Anderson has visited with since free agency began a week ago — he’s also spent time with officials in Miami, Tennessee and Baltimore.

Anderson is one of the most intriguing unrestricted free agents on the Patriots’ roster. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder was a pure pass rusher at the start of the season, but morphed into more of an every-down presence as the season went on for several reasons, not the least of which included an injury to Andre Carter. Anderson, who was signed to a one-year deal before the start of the 2011 season, finished the year with 10 sacks (plus 2.5 more in the postseason), two forced fumbles and 14 quarterback hits. (Overall, Pro Football Focus had Anderson as the Patriots’ best pass rusher, grading him at +13.2. Carter was second at 5.1.)

On the surface, Anderson doesn’t project as a premiere pass rusher, but consider the numbers — he’s under 30, is coming off a 10-sack season for a team that made it to the Super Bowl XLVI, has good playoff experience (he’s been to two Super Bowls) and is now had two seasons where he’s finished with 10 sacks or more. While he won’t command a huge deal, this offseason represents an excellent opportunity for him to land the biggest contract of his career.

While it now appears the Titans would be out of the mix with their recent acquisition of Kamerion Wimbley, the addition of Anderson to an already imposing defensive front in Buffalo that recently signed Mario Williams would certainly be an unappetizing premise for the New England offensive line in 2012. Miami has the needed cap space to give Anderson a big deal, while the Ravens would love the chance to add a pass rusher at the expense of an AFC rival.

While league sources indicate the Patriots have expressed interest in Anderson’s return, it certainly appears they now have some competition for his services if they want to retain him for 2012 and possibly beyond.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Andre Carter, Kamerion Wimbley, Mario Williams Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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