It’s rare that a veteran pass rusher simply drops out of the sky at this time of the season, but Jason Babin‘s release has prompted all sorts of speculation as to whether or not the Patriots might be interested in the 32-year-old defensive end out of Western Michigan.
The 6-foot-3, 267-pound Babin — who we profiled here as a free agent possibility  for the Patriots in 2011 — signed a five-year, $27.7 million contract with the Eagles, as part of Philly’s “Dream Team” summer of 2011.
He certainly is an intriguing possibility for New England. The Patriots, who are tied for 21st in the league with 23 sacks, have 43 quarterback hits through 11 games and could use a jolt at the defensive end spot. Chandler Jones has missed one game because of an ankle injury, while Jermaine Cunningham  will sit for the next four games because of a violation of the league’s policy on PEDs.
In the short term, it would appear that there are few drawbacks to the idea of adding Babin. Despite the fact that he’s over 30, Babin still has shown a good ability to get after opposing quarterbacks. Purely a situational pass rusher — there are similarities between his game and what Mark Anderson  brought to the Patriots over the first three-quarters of the 2011 season — Babin posted 5.5 sacks this season in 446 defensive snaps with the Eagles, per Pro Football Focus. (He had a career-high 18 sacks with Philadelphia in 2011.)
Babin has graded out as the Eagles’ third-best pass rusher at +5.9. PFF also has him with 20 quarterback hurries and 10 quarterback hits. One of the more interesting things is that Babin, who has struggled occasionally in the past when it comes to stopping the run, actually has performed fairly well in that role this season with Philadelphia, grading out positively at +1.9.
If Babin does sign with New England, expect him to work purely as a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 scheme. There are two questions when it comes to Babin: one, whether or not he would make it through waivers to reach the Patriots. And two, whether or not the Patriots would make a financial commitment to him (even on a very limited basis). Gut feeling? If he does make it through waivers on Wednesday, the Patriots would express serious interest in landing Babin.
For more on Babin, check out this video clip, which was part of the “NFL Top 100″ series from 2011: