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Just when you thought the interior of the Patriots’ front seven could not get any beefier, the Pats are rumored to be talking with former Bills and Vikings defensive tackle Pat Williams — all 6’3″, 317 lbs. of him — and could be soon bringing him in for a visit.
The news was broken this morning by ESPN’s John Clayton via twitter.
The rumor is certainly a surprising one, given the apparent depth on the Patriots’ defensive line. With Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth anchoring the middle in 4-3 formations (and Wilfork, of course at nose tackle in the 3-4), bolstered by a host of young talent behind them on the depth chart with the likes of Myron Pryor, Kyle Love and Ron Brace, it is tough to envision the Patriots taking a look at the 38-year-old Williams.
But Williams has a proven NFL track record, and despite being the oldest defensive player in the league, he has started and played in every game, but three since 2002.
Williams entered the league as an undrafted rookie with the Bills in 1997, and after four years of being on the roster bubble, broke out in 2001, recording 41 tackles and becoming a formidable roadblock to opposing run games.
He signed as a free agent with the Vikings in 2005, dropped 15 pounds, and as part of the “Williams Wall” with fellow defensive tackle Kevin Williams, was named to the NFC Pro Bowl Roster for three consecutive seasons from 2006-2008. In the past two seasons, Williams has continued to contribute to a strong Vikings D, but announced after the 2010 season that he wished to finish his career with another franchise.
At this stage, the Williams-to-the-Patriots story is only a rumor, but Clayton, a senior reporter for ESPN, is one of the media’s most reliable NFL sources.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the coming days. The Patriots’ roster, currently at 80 players, will have to be cut down to 53 by the opening game vs. Miami, and if Williams is signed, it will only serve to add to the many questions of who may be facing the axe as camp winds down.