Patriots Sign Massive, 6’6′ D-Lineman on Busy Free-Agent Day

Getty Henry Anderson

The New England Patriots have a giant new defensive lineman.

On Monday, the team agreed to a two-year deal with the 6’6″, 300-pound Henry Anderson, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the deal has a max value of $11 million with incentives:

When reports surfaced that Bill Belichick would be aggressive this offseason, most were expecting the Patriots to bring in a few solid players.

Almost no one expected New England to add seven free agents on Monday. Anderson was the seventh, and he is expected to shore up a run defense that ranked 26th in the NFL in 2020.

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In addition to signing Anderson, New England also inked WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, TE Jonnu Smith, DT Davon Godchaux, LB Matthew Judon, CB Jalen Mills in a busy day.

The Patriots have addressed almost every area of their sub-par team in 2020, but the draft is next month, and there they’re expected to draft a young quarterback.

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Henry Anderson’s Stats

Anderson has spent six years in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets. The Colts selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Stanford. He appeared in 29 games in his first three years with the Colts before signing with the Jets in 2018.

In his first year with the Jets, Anderson had the best season of his career. In 2018, he had seven sacks, 16 QB hits, and four passes defended. While not a stat-sheet stuffer, Anderson remained steady in 2019-20, notching an Approximate Value score of seven and four, respectively, in the Jets’ final two years. 

Anderson’s size and versatility were likely a draw for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The 29-year-old has the size and strength to play up and down the defensive line, and that’s the kind of flexibility New England has traditionally valued in their defensive linemen.

As much attention as the team got for shoring up its receivers and tight ends, the Patriots also did some major work to fortify the defensive line and the run defense.

Leveling Up the Run Defense and Overall

On Monday, the Patriots re-signed Deatrich Wise Jr. and Carl Davis. They also added Anderson, Davon Godchaux, and Matthew Judon. Let’s also not forget that the team will be getting back Dont’a Hightower, returning from his COVID-19 opt-out.

Hightower’s return feels like a free-agent acquisition, and it positions the Patriots’ defense to a force against the run again. It would appear New England may have some designs on trading Pro-Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore, which could open up even more money for the Patriots to spend in free agency.

Even if New England doesn’t do anything else with their roster beyond the NFL Draft, they seem positioned to be a much better team than they were in 2020, and that’s on both sides of the ball.

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