The signing of 10-year veteran defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, a two-year deal first reported by ESPN.com and subsequently confirmed to The Sports Xchange by New England Patriots team officials Tuesday, could be an addition aimed at creating more depth at a position ravaged by injury last season.
However, it probably also precludes the return of veteran Gerard Warren to the team.
"It's not (inconceivable), but I think it could be tough to have both," a Patriots source told The Sports Xchange. "It might be more of an example of just replacing one veteran guy with another and hoping lightning strikes twice."
Financial details of the Stroud contract were not immediately available.
Stroud, 32, was released by the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago after failing a team physical exam. The Patriots signed Warren to a one-year contract last spring after the former first-round choice was released by the Oakland Raiders.
A 10-year veteran, Warren, 32, played well in New England and indicated to The Sports Xchange late in the season that he hoped to be back. Warren, however, is eligible for unrestricted free agency and there have been no discussions yet about re-signing him for 2011.
In 2010, Warren appeared in all 16 games for the Patriots, and started 10 contests. But reflective of the injury problems New England experienced on the line, Warren, mostly a 4-3 defensive tackle during his career, started five games each at tackle and end. He finished the regular season with 28 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Standout nose tackle Vince Wilfork also had to move around to create advantageous matchups, and logged more starts at end (10) than at tackle.
Stroud, a first-round pick in 2001 who spent the first seven years of his career with Jacksonville before being traded to Buffalo in 2008, struggled at times as the Bills converted in 2010 to a 3-4 and he transitioned to end. He did register 49 tackles and three sacks. The Patriots seem to have no qualms about whatever injury problems caused him to fail his Buffalo examination.
New England is expected to address the end position in the draft, possibly with one of its two first-round choices, and former Pro Bowl performer Ty Warren is also expected to return after missing the entire 2010 season with a hip injury
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Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.