The New England Patriots have added depth at the linebacker position on Wednesday. According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, the Patriots have signed veteran James Anderson, who was a tackling machine last season with the Chicago Bears. Anderson will help the Patriots defense because of his ability to play coverage, an area the team struggled with due to injury and inexperience.
It is a move that may turn out to be one of the team’s more important moves as the team became thin at linebacker due to the departures of Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher. At 6-2 and 235 pounds, the 30-year-old veteran will also add physicality to a defense that has added cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and has Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo returning from injury. His ability to play coverage will add to an already much improved passing defense.
Anderson is the type of defensive player head coach Bill Belichick relishes. He is a dependable tackler who will play whatever role the coach wants him to play. With the signing the Patriots are blending young talent with veterans who have proven leadership.
Last season with the Bears, Anderson led the team with 102 tackles and four sacks. The Patriots will be the third team the versatile linebacker has played for in his career. He will most likely be used in more of a reserve role behind Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and second-year linebacker Jamie Collins.
The veteran linebacker is also a durable player. He started all 16 games for the Bears last season. He played for the Panthers from 2006 to 2012. To make room for Anderson, the Patriots released 2013 undrafted free agent receiver Mark Harrison. The young receiver missed all of last season with a foot injury.