A day after losing its best defensive player, New England added to its defensive roster depth on Wednesday evening.
According to multiple sources, including media and the player's agent, the Patriots signed pass rush specialist Jabaal Sheard to a two-year, $11-million contract. Sheard had been rumored to be on the team's radar as free agency dawned. The former Cleveland Brown has experience both as a defensive end and outside linebacker.
In addition, New England is said to have agreed to a one-year contract with former Raiders defensive back Chimdi Chekwa. The 26-year-old appeared in just 32 games (four starts) over the past four seasons as a fourth-round Oakland draft choice.
While Chekwa cannot reasonably be expected to replace Darrelle Revis in New England's secondary, his addition is clearly needed to provide depth, while Sheard's ability to rush the passer could help the secondary by applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks. A league source reportedly told ESPN that Sheard's signing by the Patriots could prove to be one of the top moves of this offseason's free agent sweepstakes. Time will tell.