New England Patriots:  Adrian Clayborn adds edge to team’s pass rush

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07: Adrian Clayborn
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07: Adrian Clayborn /

The New England Patriots added some edge to their defensive line with the signing of former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

It wouldn’t be free agency without the New England Patriots making value moves after the big splash free agents have found their landing spots.

On Friday, the Patriots made three moves, including reaching a two-year, $12.5 million deal with former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

The signings come after the team experienced a mass exodus of players including Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler and Danny Amendola.

While some of those departures were expected, Patriots fans were left wondering whether players were willing to take less to either stay or come to New England.  The Clayborn signing, in particular, proves veteran players are willing to join the organization on lesser deals.

The 29-year-old Clayborn, who led the Falcons with a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2017, brings an edge to the Patriots front seven that the team desperately needed.  He is not considered a great player, but his relentless effort and toughness makes him a very good player who could excel even more with the Patriots.

Although 6.0 of his 9.5 sacks came in one game against the Dallas Cowboys, Adrian Clayborn would’ve led the Patriots in sacks in 2017.  Rising star Trey Flowers was the top pass rusher during the regular season with 6.5 sacks.  Pairing the two should help both players get to the quarterback even more.

An added edge

With the depth Clayborn also adds, second-year defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. will have an opportunity to build on the promise he showed during his rookie season.

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In all, the New England Patriots will enter training camp with a nice mix of players along the defensive end.  Along with Clayborn, Flowers and Wise, the Patriots have last year’s top draft pick Derek Rivers returning from season-ending ACL surgery, Dont’a Hightower will be back as well as hybrid linebacker/defensive end Shea McClellin.

With free agency still in the early stages, the team may also sign another player or two and will probably also add to the defensive line through the draft.

Overall, this is a good move by the New England Patriots.  In Adrian Clayborn, they are not only adding a player who can get to the quarterback, they are adding a veteran player with playoff and Super Bowl experience.

Bill Belichick and the coaching staff also have a good idea of what Clayborn brings to the table as they have practice against him during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Along with defensive tackle Danny Shelton, the 2017 AFC Champions have already added some beef and attitude to a defense that was definitely missing an edge last season.