By: Steve Balestrieri
The New England Patriots added a very much needed shot of depth at linebacker today with the signing of veteran James Anderson. Terms of the contract were not announced.
Anderson, 30, is an athletic 6’2, 235 and spent last season with the Chicago Bears after spending his first seven as a member of the Carolina Panthers. Last season he started all 16 games and finished with 102 tackles and four sacks. Anderson projects to be a valuable member of the team in sub-packages which the Patriots played in nearly 67 percent of total defensive snaps in 2013.
He’d replace Dane Fletcher who signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In his career, Anderson has played in 110 NFL games with 69 starts and has registered 556 total tackles, 12 sacks, three INTs, 23 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. Anderson has totaled 100 or more tackles three times in his career, including a franchise-record 145 total tackles in 2011 with the Panthers.
To make room for Anderson the Patriots also released WR Mark Harrison. Harrison, 6’3, 231 was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 20, 2013, out of Rutgers. After suffering an off-season foot injury, he never fully recovered and spent the season on the Reserve/NFI List.
It was rumored through sources that Harrison was injured again during the first week of OTAs but he was a participant, so his release may or may not have been injury related. Stay tuned for more details.