|What would Jason Babin bring to Patriots?||11.28.12 at 11:58 am ET|
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:
|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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