The New England Patriots added some depth to their retooled linebacking corps Tuesday by re-signing edge rusher Shilique Calhoun.
Calhoun appeared in 15 games as a situational pass rusher this past season, tallying 33 tackles, one half-sack, three quarterback hits and one forced fumble in 266 defensive snaps. He also played 237 snaps on special teams, fifth-most among Patriots players.
With Kyle Van Noy now in Miami, Calhoun could contend for more playing time at outside linebacker in 2020. But after failing to make a noticeable impact in his first season with New England, he’ll have to first prove he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster.
The Patriots also lost linebackers Jamie Collins (to Detroit) and Elandon Roberts (to Miami) in free agency and signed former New York Jet Brandon Copeland, who could slide into Van Noy’s old spot. Second-year edge rusher Chase Winovich also should see his role increase after a promising rookie season, and Derek Rivers will look to stay on the field after losing two of his first three NFL seasons to injury.
New England’s other starting outside ‘backer, John Simon, remains under contract.
Collins’ and Roberts’ departures left the Patriots lean at inside linebacker, with that group now featuring just Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley and 2019 practice squadder Terez Hall. Copeland also played off the ball for the Jets last season but is best-suited for an edge role.
With Calhoun re-upping and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett signing with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday, just three Patriots free agents remain unsigned: kicker Nick Folk, center/guard James Ferentz and offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse.
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