Although the New England Patriots liked the way Jamie Collins played during the 2013 season and will be returning their top linebacker, Jerod Mayo, from injury, the team could certainly use some help at the position.
The Patriots also return Dont’a Hightower, who has showed some promise during his first two years in the league, but parted ways with Brandon Spikes, who signed with the Buffalo Bills.
Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston believes free agent linebacker James Anderson could help the Patriots.
If the Patriots are seeking some veteran depth at linebacker, particularly from a coverage standpoint after not tapping the position in the draft, James Anderson might be their guy after June 1 (wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula). The former Carolina Panther (2006-12) and Chicago Bear (2013), who turns 31 in September, was in town last week for a tryout. He was part of Chicago’s nickel package last season and at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds was viewed as a player whose athleticism and coverage skill trumped his physicality. He led the Bears in tackles, but Chicago, which struggled on defense in 2013, made little effort to re-sign him. The Bears had to rely heavily on Anderson last season, but in New England, he’d be more of a complementary/depth option and I could see his smarts and versatility potentially appealing to the coaching staff to challenge for that type of role
Anderson, a former Virginia Tech Hokies, was drafted by the Panthers with the 88th-overall pick in the third round of 2006 draft and remained in Carolina until 2013 when he joined the Bears. He made 102 tackles and 4.0 sacks for the Bears last season.