With free safety Devin McCourty agreeing to a 5-year, $47.5 million contract yesterday, the New England Patriots took the first step to solidifying their secondary (next up: Darrelle Revis). Now, they apparently turn their attention to the defensive front seven.
Rubin was drafted by the Browns in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Iowa State and appeared in 99 games; his career statline includes 12.0 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. The 28-year old might fill Vince Wilfork's old spot along the defensive line. Wilfork, who has nearly identical measurables (both are 6'2" and around 325 lbs.), is expected to hit unrestricted free agency on Tuesday, as the Patriots will not exercise his two-year contract option.
Sheard was also drafted by the Browns, but three year later and four rounds earlier: the team selected the 25-year old out of Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2011 draft. He played as an outside linebacker in Cleveland's 3-4 defense and recorded 23.0 career sacks, but might switch to defensive end in the Patriots' 4-3 scheme (similar to Akeem Ayers, who will enter unrestricted free agency, last season).
The Foxborough-Cleveland-pipeline has been established when the Patriots brought former Browns General Manager Michael Lombardi aboard as an assistent to the coaching staff. Since Lombardi joined New England, the team has signed a few players with ties to Ohio; among them wide receiver Brian Tyms.