The biggest need I see going into training camp for the Patriots is outside linebacker. Tully Banta-Cain is expected to be released on Thursday, and the Patriots will be even thinner at this position. However, there is a free agent available that I believe makes most sense for the Pats to try to sign. Matt Roth could be the right fit for the Patriots.

Could Matt Roth be a good fit with the Patriots? (FILE:Icon/SMI)

A cliche that is often used lately, is that the Patriots need a “pass rusher”. This term could possibly be the most overrated phrase along with needing an elite receiver that I keep hearing regarding the team. The Patriots need a 3 down outside linebacker to compliment Jermaine Cunningham on the other side.

Rob Ninkovich has been a decent player, but really not a 3 down outside linebacker. Eric Moore could be brought in to rush the passer, but he is not projected to be in the defense on running downs.

Matt Roth fits the criteria that I think is needed at the position. First, let’s look at his size. He is 6 feet 4 inches tall, and weighs 275. This is a similar build that Bill Belichick likes in his outside linebackers.

Second, he is familiar with the type of system that the Patriots run. He played in Eric Mangini’s defense last season in Cleveland. This familiarity with the system could be very important, and especially this season with the lockout.

Third, he has been a productive player in his NFL career. He has 20 career sacks along with 271 tackles. Last season with the Browns, he had 3.5 sacks, and 86 tackles. If you watched Roth play last season, you would see him often putting pressure on the quarterback.

Fourth, Belichick I am sure is very familiar with the player, and knows what he can do. He played for Kirk Ferentz at Iowa who is a disciple of Belichick. Also, he started his career at Miami, and at times made an impact against the Patriots. He also played against the Patriots last season with the Browns.

Is he a “play-maker” who is going to dominate a game? I think the answer to that question is no, but he would be an upgrade at the position, and another year in the 3-4 could see him take another jump in his production. Just remember that Mike Vrabel was not an impact player right away when he came from Pittsburgh.

The best word I have to describe Matt Roth would be “solid”. I know some fans might want someone with a bigger reputation, but the Patriots need a player that can be counted on to produce. Matt Roth has already proven that he can do just that.