According to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports, the New England Patriots are one of four teams in the running for the services of former Cleveland Brown Jabaal Sheard.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals are also interested in the 25-year-old defensive end slash outside linebacker, now set to become an unrestricted free agent March 10.
Sheard, a 6-foot-3, 264-pound Pittsburgh product, was drafted by the Browns at No. 37 overall in the 2011 NFL draft. He has since spent the first four years of his career with Cleveland, starting 50 of his 61 games to notch 190 tackles, 23 sacks, 12 pass breakups and seven forced fumbles.
His career-best 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles transpired during his rookie season, when he led Cleveland’s defensive front in both categories. But this past season, Sheard battled a foot injury and registered a career-low two sacks to go with zero forced fumbles, starting just five of 16 contests during head coach Mike Pettine’s inaugural campaign.
Seen as a versatile edge-rusher who’s able to hold up the point of attack versus the run in a similar manner to Patriots free agent Akeem Ayers, Sheard is perhaps best suited as a 4-3 defensive end. He also has experience rotating in as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and it’s worth noting he also has experience with current Patriots coaching assistant Michael Lombardi.
Lombardi spent one full season as the Browns’ general manager and vice president of player personnel in 2013. A handful of former Browns, including running back Dion Lewis, receivers Brian Tyms and Jonathan Krause, offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann, defensive end Cameron Henderson and linebacker Eric Martin, have been members of the Patriots since then.