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Starting with the surprising trade for Albert Haynesworth, much attention has been paid to the Patriots defensive line. Soon after trading for Haynesworth, the Patriots released veteran defensive end Ty Warren, who recently signed with the Broncos. Since then, the two biggest questions surround the D-line are: Will Haynesworth return to his dominant ways, and who will start next to him and Vince Wilfork?
The second question may be answered soon, as the Patriots have brought former Jets DE Shaun Ellis in for a workout.
The 34-year-old Ellis has spent his first 11 years with the rival New York Jets. After a strong rookie year and two disappointing seasons, Ellis had his two best seasons in 2003 and 2004, amassing 12.5 and 11 sacks, respectively. Since then, Ellis has been a consistent, if not spectacular, force on the line. Last season, he made 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks for the Jets.
However, he had five tackles and two sacks in the Jets’ playoff win over the Patriots, a performance which 14-year veteran Trevor Pryce called “the best game I’ve ever seen a defensive lineman play, period.” He has appeared in more playoff games than any player in Jets history.
Unlike the addition of Haynesworth, the addition of Ellis would have little to no risk. Although Ellis is unlikely to dominate like Haynesworth potentially can, he has had no off-the-field issues, and has been consistently productive throughout his career. Maybe most importantly, signing Ellis would be taking away a key part of the Jets’ defensive line and adding a player who knows the Jets defense inside and out. Ellis caused the Patriots problems in their playoff loss, and Bill Belichick has added divisional players who give his teams problems before (Wes Welker, Sammy Morris).
While the Jets have offered Ellis a one-year contract for the veteran minimum, they drafted defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round, and have stated they expect him to start. And though Ellis has expressed a desire to finish his career with the Jets, he may rather come to a team where he will play a bigger role. And while Ellis will likely help the Patriots defensive line, he may have even more of an impact simply by not playing on the Jets.