According to ESPN, the Patriots are hosting Browns free agent outside linebacker/defensive end Jabaal Sheard on Tuesday night, just hours into the opening of NFL free agency.
Sheard is a veteran of four seasons with the Browns. The 6-3, 264-pound former second-round pick out of Pitt has played in 61 games with 50 starts in Cleveland. He started every game he played over his first three seasons, but started only five of 16 games played last fall in Mike Pettine's first year running the Browns.
Sheard's best year in terms of sack production came as a rookie in 2011 when he notched 8.5. That number has dropped each season since from to 7, 5.5 and then just two sacks in more limited playing time this past fall. Sheard also had an instant impact with five forced fumbles in his rookie season, though he's totaled just two in the three years since.
Sheard might be seen as an option to add pass rush depth behind the likes of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, as well as slot into the reserve role held this past season by Akeem Ayers, who is a free agent.
Sheard is the classic 'tweener build of edge player that Bill Belichick has utilized throughout the years. The Patriots may also have a better line of information on Beard than some, given that current New England assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi spent time in Cleveland serving as the team's general manager in 2013.
In his tweet reporting the visit, ESPN's Adam Schefter did make it clear that there was, "no deal yet," between the Patriots and Sheard.