The New England Patriots should waste no time signing recently released defensive end Elvis Dumervil. Having seen one of their own major starts, Wes Welker, move to the Denver Broncos, the Patriots should return the favor by signing the man who notched 63.5 sacks as a Bronco.
More than just superficial payback, the Patriots need a player with Dumervil's qualities to boost their defense. He is exactly the kind of hybrid rush end, crucial to head coach Bill Belichick's multiple defensive schemes.
Belichick loves to blend his fronts, mixing in elements of both the 4-3 and 3-4. This box of tricks relies on a pass-rusher able to act as both a defensive end and a standup outside linebacker.
Belichick hasn't really found this key player since Willie McGinest retired. Tully Banta-Cain performed the role for a while, but was only mildly successful. Mike Vrabel excelled at the position in 2007, tallying 14 sacks.
In 2011, Andre Carter took the job, as the Patriots moved to more four-man fronts. He posted 10 sacks before before becoming a salary cap casualty. Last season, Belichick hoped first round pick Chandler Jones would finally give him a dominant difference-maker at the position.
However, a combination of injuries and fading after a fast start, meant Jones wasn't the quite the threat the Patriots were hoping for. Part of the problem was the absence of another prolific pass-rusher to share the burden.
Dumervil would give the Patriots exactly that. He has operated in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. Yet as the schemes have changed, the one constant has been Dumervil's knack for consistently getting to the quarterback.
As a 3-4 rush linebacker in 2009, Dumervil was moved around the formation and recorded 17 sacks. Since moving back to the 4-3, he has notched 20.5 quarterback takedowns, including 11 in 2012.
Critics claim he is not the force he was. However, Belichick has a talent for getting veterans back to their best. Pairing Dumervil with Jones would given his defense a dangerous combination up front.
Belichick would also have two hybrid rushers that would allow him to seamlessly morph from four-man to three-man fronts. A pass-rusher with Dumervil's pedigree will likely be sought after. However, few teams have as great a need for him as the Patriots.
Until Belichick produces another stout defense, that fourth Super Bowl win will continue to elude him. Signing Dumervil would be a smart step towards chasing down another Lombardi Trophy.