According to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, the Patriots are looking at a pair of high-profile (or moderate profile) free agent pass rushers: Browns outside linebacker/defensive end Matt Roth and former Colts and Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock.
Matt Roth has been a guy who a lot of Patriots fans have had on their radar since before the free agency period even started. During his career, he has played a significant amount of both 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker. Beginning his career as a second round pick with the Miami Dolphins in 2005, Roth moved to outside linebacker when the team hired Tony Sparano in 2008. In his first year as an outside linebacker, Roth recorded 53 tackles and five sacks. After being waived by the Dolphins in 2009, the Browns picked him up midseason. Roth recorded four sacks in six games, and in 2010 started all 16 for the Browns. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Roth recorded 40 pressures in 392 attempts rushing the quarterback, which is a pretty good number considering he only recorded 3.5 sacks. In addition, Roth was strong against the run, picking up 86 tackles.
Getting a player like Roth would give the Patriots some scheme versatility. Roth could likely play as a down lineman in 4-man sets, and could play on his feet in a 30-front. While a wasn't initially a big fan of a move for Roth because I didn't think he offered much that the Patriots didn't already have, the release of Tully Banta-Cain has certainly opened the door for a roster spot to go to a player like Roth.
According to Reiss' report, the Patriots brought Roth in for a workout and visit yesterday.
I'm particularly interested in the Patriots' reported workout/visit with Raheem Brock, which is scheduled to take place today as reported by Shalise M. Young of the Boston Globe. In 16 games in a reserve role last season, Brock recorded 32 tackles and nine sacks for the Seahawks. Brock played just over half the snaps for the Seahawks last year. He rushed the quarterback 477 times, coming up with nine sacks (a total of 11 including the post-season), 45 pressures, and 11 additional quarterback hits. At 6'4", 274 lbs Brock is strong enough to set the edge (having also played defensive tackle at times for the Colts), meaning he could play left or right end for the Patriots. At this point in his career, I do not see him making the transition to outside linebacker. But the Patriots are in desperate need of someone who can put their hand in the dirt and just get after the quarterback.
Brock is 33 years old, but could be the pass rush specialist the Patriots need. He should also come at a cheaper price than Matt Roth and he would be a bargain deal compared to someone like Osi Umenyiora.