Continuing their pursuit of experienced defensive depth, the New England Patriots, who have already added at least a half-dozen
well-tenured veterans in the offseason, were expected to work out a
pair of veteran free agent veterans on Monday, The Sports Xchange has
Multiple league sources confirmed for The Sports Xchange that
unrestricted safeties Darren Sharper and Renaldo Hill would audition
for coaches and club officials.
A five-time Pro Bowl performer, Sharper, 35, is among the most high
profile of the veteran free agents still available at any position. The
14-year veteran, as noted by The Sports Xchange in a Tip Sheet note on
Friday, has attracted interest from a few teams, but prefers to sign
with a Super Bowl contender, if possible.
Sharper was a starter in New Orleans as recently as 2009. But he
underwent knee surgery last summer, began the 2010 season on the
physically unable to perform list, and lost his starting job to Malcolm Jenkins. The former Green Bay second-round pick (1997) appeared in only
eight games, with one start, and registered 16 tackles and one pass
The eight games were a career low, and Sharper started fewer games just
once, in his '97 rookie campaign.
The former William and Mary star is tied for sixth place on the NFL's
all-time interception list, with 63. Among pure safeties, only career
leader and Hall of Fame member Paul Krause has more pickoffs. It is
likely that Sharper will garner some Hall of Fame consideration when he
In stints with the Packers (1997-2004), Vikings (2005-2008), and Saints
(2009-2010), Sharper also has 651 tackles, 65 passes defensed, eight
forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. He has returned 11
interceptions for touchdowns.
Released by Denver last month, Hill is a 10-year veteran, and is more a
strong safety, the position at which he started all 16 games for the
Broncos in 2010.
Hill, 32, entered the league as a seventh-round pick of Arizona in
2001. He has played for the Cardinals (2001-2004), Raiders (2005),
Dolphins (2006-2008), and Broncos (2009-2010). The onetime Michigan State standout has 596 tackles, 19 interceptions, 54 passes defensed,
five forced fumbles and four recoveries in 141 games and 114 starts.
New England currently has seven safeties on its camp roster, including
PATRIOTS INSIDER TAKE: (by Jon Scott)
News that Sharper could have been interested in New England
reached our ears the week before it was reported.
Until he actually got in front of the coaches,
it was tough to tell whether the possiblity that he could end up in
Foxboro was a probability or just a wildcard. Like
Sharper, Hill could also
prove to be worthy of a closer look for New England, as in granting him
a roster spot until cutdowns come. New England isn't afraid
to take chances on veteran defenders. Tank Williams was with
the team for a little over a season, but had his career cut short when
he severely injured his wrist in camp. Former Patriots DB
Terrell Buckley was invited back to camp for a second tour, but was
nicked up in camp and eventually let go. Those invitations
were just a couple of examples that Bill Belichick is willing to take a
chance on an experienced veteran if he feels it could help the team.
By all accounts the Patriots are done waiting for former first round
pick Brandon Meriweather to "get with the program." Multiple
NFL sources have told PatriotsInsider.com that New England is preparing
to move on if necessary at the position. Sergio Brown, an
undrafted rookie in 2010, took playing time away from Meriweather last
If that wasn't enough of an indication, Meriweather himself admitted
that he wasn't doing some of the things the coaches expected.
Does this mean the Patriots are ready to dump Meriweather?
Possibly. More likely, they want a close look at a veteran
safety who can compete with Meriweather, Brown and James Samders for
one of the roster spots.
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.
Talk About It In the Forums
For more Patriots news follow us via Twitter: @PatriotsInsider