Dec 15, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Edwin Baker (27) runs past Chicago Bears outside linebacker James Anderson (50) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots sign LB James Anderson

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Per usual, the Patriots aren’t quite done tinkering with their offseason roster yet.

If the Patriots are a Mustang, consider the Belichick-Kraft team Carroll Shelby, constantly twisting wrenches under the hood to coax an extra 0.2785 horsepower out of the engine.  According to the official Patriots team site, they signed linebacker James Anderson today, after the Bears decided not to re-sign him.

Since the Bears defense last season resembled Swiss cheese more than anything else, James Anderson actually ended up starting all 16 games for Chicago, chalking up a not-insignificant 102 tackles and 4 sacks.  Before that, though, it’d be easy to understand if Anderson flew under your radar, since he logged 6 seasons in Carolina while the Panthers were in their mid-2000s yes-we’re-still-rebuilding-why-do-you-ask phase.  More interestingly, between Carolina and Chicago, he’s had three seasons where he eclipsed the 100-tackle mark, including last year.

To make signing a probable reserve LB signing a bit sweeter, ESPN’s Mike Reiss astutely pointed out that signing Anderson today (as opposed to before June 1st), he won’t count against the voodoo of the NFL’s compensatory draft pick formula.

New England’s big-name linebackers are pretty entrenched on the depth chart, but after last year’s team was gutted by injuries, it makes sense to keep some proven reserves on deck and ready to roll.

There’s still quite a bit of time (sigh) between now and the season, so there aren’t any guarantees that Anderson even makes the Patriots final roster.  A certain Heisman-winning quarterback can verify that.

But, on a positive note, James Anderson’s tweet earlier today is an encouraging sign that he’s ready to get to work.  He’ll be worth watching around August before the final roster cuts take their toll.

Tags: James Anderson New England Patriots

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