On Monday, the New England Patriots brought in three offensive players for free agency workouts – including ex-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones. Yesterday, the team addressed the defensive side of the football by hosting four players (according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss). Let’s take a look at them.
DT Michael Bennett
Not to be confused with Pro Bowler currently playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Michael Bennett started his career with Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015. The sixth-round draft pick out of Ohio State showed promise during his rookie season – appearing in 13 games and playing one fourth of defensive snaps – before injuries derailed his career: Bennett sat out all of 2016 due to a calf issue and missed all but one game last year because of a pectoral injury. The Jaguars finally opted to release the 25-year old two weeks ago.
DE Ryan Delaire
Like Bennett, Ryan Delaire also entered NFL in 2015. After short stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins, the Towson product joined the Carolina Panthers as a sub-pass rusher. The 6’4, 265 lbs defensive edge appeared in a combined 16 games over the next two years, registering 3.5 sacks. Delaire, however, spent most of the 2016 season on injured reserve due to a knee issue and after failing his physical the following year, spent all of 2017 out of football. He joined the Indianapolis Colts in mid-August this year but was let go again during roster cutdowns.
DE John Simon
The most experienced player brought in yesterday, John Simon appeared in a combined 55 games over the course of his five-year career. The 6’2, 260 lbs edge rusher originally joined the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens, but actually spent most of his time with the Houston Texans – a team for which he registered 10.0 sacks in 39 games. In 2017, John joined the Indianapolis Colts on a three-year contract but after ending 2017 on injured reserve due to a shoulder issue was let go earlier this month.
LB Azeem Victor
After breaking his leg late during his 2016 junior season, Azeem Victor had a bad 2017 season: he was ineffective when on the field and ended the year suspended due to a DUI charge. Consequently, the 23-year old fell to the sixth round of this year’s draft where he was picked by the Oakland Raiders. The Washington product failed to make an impact, though, and was let go again during early-September roster cutdowns. A short stint on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad later, the 6’3, 230 lbs linebacker is now on the open market again.
While the Patriots were busy working out players, they also apparently brought back a familiar face: running back and punt returner Kenjon Barner, who reportedly has a locker room set up at Gillette Stadium but has not yet officially been re-signed by the team.
The 28-year old entered the NFL in 2013 as a sixth round pick by the Carolina Panthers. The Oregon product was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014 to reunite with his college coach, Chip Kelly, and spent the next three seasons with the Eagles. In 2017, he joined the Los Angeles Chargers before re-signing with the Eagles later during the year. Early in 2018, Barner was back with the Panthers but did not crack the team’s opening day roster.
Instead, he joined the Patriots after week one to serve as a depth running back and punt returner. He was unable to showcase his talents, though, as he was a healthy scratch before getting released last week. Now, it seems as if New England brought him back to their 53-man roster. As a result, a corresponding transaction will soon have to follow.