Rumor Mill: Pats Just Miss On Another FA

The Rumor Mill is churning again, and the Patriots are involved in the buzz surrounding yet another player on the open market. Is it possible that the Patriots still have room to make more moves in free agency? Our Insider's take on what's possible, and what we're hearing.

RUMOR: Patriots Show Interest in DL, David Bowens

Status: DEAD

Buzz: The Patriots need another defensive lineman to shore up their defensive line depth, and they like what they see in the 6-foot-3, 260-pound veteran. With Marquise Hill's development still in progress, the Patriots need more depth on the defensive line behind Ty Warren, Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green.

Reality: Insiders tell that Bowens visited the New York Jets and was supposedly close to a deal. That deal has been finalized as of just a short time ago, and Bowens is now off the market. The Carolina Panthers were pursuing him and the Miami Dolphins still had an interest in re-signing him. Bowens was working to schedule a visit with 2 teams other than the Jets recently, with the Panthers being one and the Patriots believed to be the other.

While Bowens only had 20 tackles (13 solo) last season, the 8-year veteran did manage 5 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries. New England could use Bowens on the end in their 3-4 defense as a potential run defender or rush end. The chance that Bowens could wind up on the Patriots roster is high enough to warrant adding him to the watch list.

Impact: New England needs another defensive end. Marquise Hill has seen less than a full season of action in his 3 years in the league (13 games), and recorded no statistics in 2006. Patriots Insider reported that Hill suffered a lower leg injury in training camp last year and that very likely had an impact on his ability to see the field. The team has to know that Hill may still not be ready to step up in 2007, and there is no contingency plan on the roster aside from the linebackers and potential draft picks. Tully Banta-Cain was inadequate against the run as an outside linebacker playing against the run, and the Patriots knew it. After San Diego exploited the weak link, New England was forced to shuffle their roster for their next game against the Colts.

When teams run at the end, a solid block on the outside backer can seal the corner and allow runners to gain significant yardage. If the Patriots don't do something to build depth at the edge, they will have no answer again in 2007 when Richard Seymour leaves the field and Ty Warren is manning the opposite side.

Miami Dolphins' David Bowens (96) smothers Buffalo Bills' Roscoe Parrish after a short gain in the first half of the Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006, football game in Miami. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)


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