Rumor Mill: Linebackers On The Horizon?

The Patriots have signed Randy Moss, Jason Webster and Sam Aiken. Jabar Gaffney is has also returned, but what about the linebackers? Tedy Bruschi is back, but the linebacker unit could still use some assistance. One rumor reportedly ties a top tier free agent to the Pats. Get inside to see what we're hearing about three different defenders including the one pictured.

LB Clark Haggans: Rumored interest from the Patriots in Haggans continues.

As the starting outside linebacker for the Steelers the past seven seasons, he has the experience necessary to move into a starting role with another team that runs the 3-4 defense. Haggans' agent has not responded to our inquiry at this time.

Scout.com's Adam Caplan has reported the Browns are one of the teams currently pursuing the Pittsburgh Steelers veteran. The Giants and the Patriots are the two other teams in the mix according to reports out of New York and Pittsburgh.

Cleveland runs a similar defense to the one in New England, and could be considered a favorite to land the free agent if he doesn't return to the steel city. New England is the dark horse.

SteelCityInsider.com's Jim Wexell shared an insider's take with Patriots Insider Tuesday to update the Haggans situation.

"This scenario is similar to the Deshea Townsend sweepstakes of a couple years ago," wrote Wexell via email.

"Townsend was expected to lose his job to Bryant McFadden, who had a pretty good rookie season. The Steelers liked Townsend, but [Bill] Cowher never liked to keep benched vets around. But Townsend was on the market so long that his price came down. After New England made a low offer to him, the Steelers decided to keep him. Thing is, he's held off McFadden ever since.

"Clark Haggans is held in the same esteem. The coaches really like his character and he hasn't diminished physically. The staff wants to move LaMarr Woodley into his place, but if Clark can be had for cheap, they'd like to keep him around."

Wexell brings up an interesting connection with the Townsend situation. Could the Patriots explore that option again? Probably.


Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Clark Haggans (53) during the first quarter of the Super Bowl XL football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

SteelCityInsider's Dale Lolley reported that the Browns and the Patriots are interested in Haggans (link), something we've been saying for a while now. Lolley's reports are courtesy the Observer-Reporter.

Lolley had this to say about the Steeler's interest in re-signing their linebacker. " Clark has been a solid player for the Steelers ­ in fact some thought he was the team's best linebacker in 2005 - but his play tailed off in 2007 and the team drafted LaMarr Woodley to replace him," Lolley wrote in an email.

"The Steelers wouldn't mind having him back, but it wouldn't be as a starter. He's played the strong side as a starter, so lining up over tight end isn't a problem for him."

Restricted Possiblity?

LB Michael Boley: A restricted free agent of the Atlanta Falcons, with the first round tender. At 6-foot-3, 242-pounds Boley may be a bit too light to play outside in the Patriots' scheme. Questions on availability came up when one scout.com member wondered if the Patriots might be interested. Here's what we were able to dig up in a quick search for more on Boley.

"I don't think he's big enough to play 3-4," said Caplan when asked about Boley's potential fit in New England. "I talked to him two weeks ago and he said there were no talks for an extension. He also got the first round RFA tender so I can't see [The Patriots] signing him to an offer sheet."

We agree with Caplan's assessment. There are decent linebackers available for depth if need be. There's also the possibility that Vernon Gholson will be available in the Draft. Why give up a high pick for Boley if a player like Gholston might be there. More on this situation shoudl develop after the Draft.

Tweener Available

LB Chaun Thompson: Not enough substance in this possibility to run with. Thompson struggled with picking up the defensive scheme under Romeo Crennel, so to think he could magically pick it up in New England may be a bit of a stretch. The Seahawks are showing interest in Thompson after losing their own versatile special teams linebacker [Edit: Kevin Bentley was the linebacker lost via free agency]. Thompson has the physical ability, but the light needs to come on. He could be signed for depth if he doesn't get a better deal elsewhere.

 

Patriots Insider tracks the latest rumors and rumblings behind the scenes for player interest relating to the Patriots. For the most recent updates be sure to check the RUMOR MILL Tracker multiple times per day as we often post material without posting front page updates.


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