The Patriots will see another one of their free agents depart with Adam Schefter's report via agent Drew Rosenhaus that Danny Shelton has signed with the Detroit Lions. Shelton joins Jamie Collins in making the move to Matt Patricia's team.
After a lackluster first season that saw him start to emerge later in the year, Shelton re-signed with the Patriots in 2019 on another one-year deal and made a significant jump as an early-down interior block eater. He went from 31.1 percent of the snaps in 2018 to 49.3 percent this past year, setting career highs in tackles (61) and sacks (three), earning himself a significant raise in the process.
Shelton leaves a significant hole in the middle of the Patriots defensive line, literally and figuratively. Lawrence Guy remains a key piece, but the team will now look to find a big two-gapper who can control multiple interior offensive linemen. Byron Cowart is one interesting depth piece, but is significantly lighter than Shelton and appeared to be more of a penetrator in limited action as a rookie.
With the departure of both outside linebackers and nose tackle Shelton, the Patriots are lacking some of the most important pieces of their defensive scheme. They'll need to make some additions, adjust their base defense or some combination of both.
After seeing their defense fall off from an epic start in 2019, the Patriots defensive front will look significantly different in 2019.