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Reports: Patriots sign DE Smith

New England has added another free agent at a position of need.


The Patriots have added to the depth at their defensive end position, adding veteran pass rusher Will Smith, according to media reports (first noted by ESPN's Field Yates).

Smith, a 2004 first-round draft choice of the New Orleans Saints, is 32 and coming off a serious knee injury suffered last summer during training camp. The injury forced him to miss the entire 2013 season. However, when healthy, Smith has been a reliable pass rushing threat, collecting 67.5 over the past decade.

Even if he can't return to the form that saw him record a career-best13 sacks in 2009, Smith's presence should give a boost to the New England pass rush. Smith could join starters Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, along with second-year man Michael Buchanan and possibly others, in a pass rush rotation that saw Jones and Ninko take virtually all the snaps last season. Having an extra body to come into the game might help keep Jones and Ninko fresher later in the season.

With a bolstered backfield augmented through free agency earlier this offseason, the Patriots now have, on paper, addressed a need at the front of their defense. There were more high-profile free agent defensive ends available earlier this offseason, but the Patriots elected to wait and go with a more affordable option in Smith.

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