NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
Prior to this afternoon, the Patriots had kept all of their free agency transactions in house. That streak broke with the signing of former Cincinnati Bengals DE Jonathan Fanene.
It may not be the splash some Patriots fans were looking for, but it’s a solid signing and a player that should be able to play a versatile role in the hybrid New England defense.
The 29-year-old DE has played a rotational role for the Bengals since being drafted out of Utah in the 7th round in the 2005 draft.
Last season he had 24 total tackles and 6.5 sacks starting two games. He missed most of 2010 with a hamstring injury suffered against the Patriots. In 2009, he started ten games with 36 total tackles and 6 sacks.
Playing 379 snaps, Pro Football Focus had him as the 53rd rated DE last season, though he really starred as a DT late in the season, rating 25th despite playing only 25 snaps.
Fanene does a nice job rushing the quarterback from the inside, but may struggle at times getting that same rush as a 7-tech in a 4-3.
In New England’s defense, I can see him playing three roles: 5-tech in a 3-4, and 3-tech and 7-tech in a four man front. With Mike Wright retired, Myron Pryor a constant injury risk and Gerard Warren’s future uncertain, it was a wise move to improve the rotation along the defensive line.
Fanene signed a three year deal with the Patriots, which included a $3.85 million signing bonus according to Ian Rapoport from the Boston Herald.
Fanene is also an accomplished run defender, rating positively ever year at every position according to Pro Football Focus.
Like I said before, it may not be Mario Williams, but it’s these kinds of value moves that make the Patriots what they are.