By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
After a week of tire-kicking on assorted defensive linemen, a source confirms the Patriots are closing in on a one-year deal with former Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis, pending a physical. The news was initially reported by ESPN. Ellis is a 6-foot-5, 290-pound veteran about to enter his 12th year in the league. The 34-year-old has spent his entire career with the Patriots' AFC East rivals since being drafted in the first round out of Tennessee in 2000. Albert Haynesworth, his soon-to-be teammate in New England, came out of Tennessee in 2002. An up-front massing of Ellis, Vince Wilfork, Haynesworth, Mike Wright and a fleet of younger players could be amazing if health and spry legs are with them all.
In 15 games last season, Ellis recorded 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He was a major irritation for the Patriots in last January's playoff loss to the Jets with two sacks and constant presence in the backfield. He talked about that game here. Ellis also authored one of my favorite postgame field departure moments back in 2008. Witness here.
If Ellis' physical checks out, the two-time Pro Bowler (2003, 2009) would be another experienced and versatile addition to the Patriots defensive line. The Pats made a big splash trading for Albert Haynesworth soon after the lockout ended, and they have also picked up defensive end Mark Anderson, who has been playing behind Eric Moore and Jermaine Cunningham in camp.Previous to signing Anderson, the Patriots also worked out Matt Roth, Raheem Brock and Tommie Harris. The Jets drafted Ellis in 2000 with the 12th overall pick. They used the pick they received as compensation for Bill Belichick fleeing to New England to swing a deal with San Francisco to get up to 12. With the ever-changing nature of the Patriots' defensive schemes, it's hard to fully forecast how Ellis will be used. He's been a 3-4 defensive end. He moves to defensive tackle in the 4-3. He can also play end in the 4-3. He can be a three-down player and is terrifically durable. In a 4-3 set, the Patriots now have Ellis, Wilfork, Haynesworth, Wright, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Darryl Richard, Kade Westonand Kyle Love to roll through at the tackle spots. Wright and Ellis can go to the 4-3 end spots where Jermaine Cunningham, Eric Wright, Marques Murrell and Rob Ninkovich have been mixing in. The Jets were interested in keeping Ellis around but reportedly offered him only the veteran minimum. On Sunday, Jets coach Rex Ryan said of Ellis' decision, "The fact that he chose them.. there's no way I'm going to wish him well. There's no chance of that."Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran