The New England Patriots found an edge on Wednesday, signing former Cleveland Browns pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard to a two-year, $11 million deal, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.
Sheard was in town for a free-agent visit before agreeing to terms with New England. His contract includes a base salary of $1 million in 2015 and $4 million in 2016, with a $1 million roster bonus due for both years.
The 6-foot-3, 264-pound Pittsburgh product was selected by Cleveland in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. He went on to start 50 of 61 games for the team that drafted him, collecting 190 tackles, 23 sacks, 12 pass breakups and seven forced fumbles over four seasons.
Sheard’s best season in Cleveland was his first, when he amassed 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles to lead the Browns’ 4-3 defensive front. He battled a foot injury this past season and amassed a career-low two sacks, starting five games at outside linebacker in the 3-4.
The 25-year-old projects as a rotational defensive end for the Patriots. His serviceability as a stand-up linebacker in sub-packages could also see him assume a role similar to the one Akeem Ayers carved in the midst of 2014.
And with Ayers an unrestricted free agent, right end Chandler Jones coming off a hip injury, and left end Rob Ninkovich playing over 1,000 snaps in each of his last four seasons, Sheard could assume many things.