Patriots positional review: Defensive ends

Patriots positional review: Defensive ends
February 18, 2014, 7:15 pm
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(USA Today Sports)

PATRIOTS TALK

Tom E. Curran continues his position-by-position analysis of the Patriots as we head into the offseason. Today: Defensive ends. Tomorrow: Cornerbacks

ROB NINKOVICH
AGE: 30 (2/1/84)
STATS: 16 games, 91 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
CONTRACT: Expires after 2016
2014 CAP HIT: $3.7M ($2.1M salary, $1.25 prorated bonus, $250K roster bonus, $100K workout bonus).
 
Nink remains one of the Patriots best bargains. Overall, he was solid in 2013, though the opportunities for big plays didn’t afford themselves as often with the middle of the Patriots defensive line diminished and more attention being paid to the edges. Additionally, with green linebackers, the ability to get creative with the ends was limited. Solid defensive end whose decline may not be a long way off but still hasn’t begun.
 
CHANDLER JONES
AGE: 23 (2/27/90)
STATS: 16 games, 79 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
CONTRACT: Expires after 2015
2014 CAP HIT: $2,229,136 ($1,133,045 base salary $1,096,091 prorated bonus)
 
Getting the kind of production from their defensive ends for about $3.3 million in salary in 2014 is going to be a good deal for the Patriots. One of the plotlines heading into camp was whether or not Jones would make second-year strides. He absolutely did and the biggest one in my estimation was playing all 16 games after a rookie season that saw him nagged by injury. Like Ninkovich, the attrition around him ended up impacting his personal stats. Buoyed by better talent around him, he should make another stride in 2014.
 
ANDRE CARTER
AGE: 34 (5/12/79)
STATS: 9 games, 4 tackles, 2 sacks
CONTRACT: Expires after 2013
2014 CAP HIT: free agent
 
Probably the end of the road for Carter who came back when the Patriots were faced with an onslaught of injuries. It gets harder to maintain the kind of conditioning necessary to answer a call out of the blue from an NFL team. Carter was a tremendous pro.
 
JAKE BEQUETTE
AGE: 24 (2/21/89)
STATS: none
CONTRACT: Expires after 2014
2014 CAP HIT: $709,950 ($570K salary, $134,950 prorated bonus, $5K workout bonus
 
Poor kid is like the NFL’s Moonlight Graham. Hasn’t put up a stat in two seasons.  Selected in the third round as a pass rusher from Arkansas, Bequette is either a super-secret project about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting AFC or he’s just not getting it done at all. The Patriots have toned down the draft day whiffs in recent years but Jake is beginning to look like one. He’ll be a toss-up to make it out of camp.
 
MICHAEL BUCHANAN
AGE: 23 (1/24/91)
STATS:  15 games, 9 tackles, 2 sacks
CONTRACT: Expires after 2016
2014 CAP HIT: $508,403 ($495K salary, $13,403 prorated bonus)
 
Has some promise, especially given the amount of games for which he was active. Rare for a rookie to be activated for that many games, especially one like Buchanan who was a seventh-rounder taken with the 226th overall pick last year. Great length (6-5, 255) and a player worth keeping a close eye on in camp.
 
ARMOND ARMSTEAD
AGE: 23 (1/24/91)
STATS:  none
CONTRACT: Expires after 2015
2014 CAP HIT: $495K
 
Signed last February, the Patriots plainly had designs on Armstead being some kind of hybrid DT/DE before he contracted an infection in the preseason that ended his season before it began. Ultimate X-factor for the team in 2014. Along with other ultimate X-factors all over the offense and defense.