Source: Patriots showing interest in veteran DT Rakeem Nuñez-Roches

Mark Daniels
The Providence Journal
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Dec 21, 2019; Tampa, Florida, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs with the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) defends during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots might not be done adding to their defensive line.

According to a league source, the Patriots have shown interest in veteran defensive tackle Rakeem Nuñez-Roches during this early free agency period. The 27-year-old started 11-of-16 games played last year in Tampa Bay. The 6-foot-2, 307 pounder finished with 20 tackles and three quarterback hits.

Nunez-Roches isn’t the only defensive tackle the Patriots have checked in with, either. According to another league source, the Patriots have shown interest in veteran Sheldon Rankins as well. However, the source added that it doesn’t seem like Rankins will be signing with the Patriots. The former first-round pick played in 12 games last season for New Orleans in a reserve role. He started 33-of-63 games with the Saints.

The Patriots have added two defensive linemen this offseason in Davon Godchaux and Henry Anderson as their two best defensive tackles (Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler) from last season are free agents. Butler also signed with Miami on Wednesday. One of the Patriots goals this offseason was to sure up their run defense, which allowed 2,103 rushing yards in 2020. That was the third most rushing yards allowed in the Bill Belichick-era.

The Patriots have had interest in Nunez-Roches before – working him out prior to the 2015 NFL Draft. The defensive tackle was drafted in the sixth round by Kansas City that year. He spent three seasons with the Chiefs. He started 11-of-16 games in 2017. Ninez-Roches was released in 2018 where he ultimately ended up in Tampa Bay. After being used as a backup defensive tackle in 2018 and 2019, he carved out a starting role for himself last year, which ended in a Super Bowl championship.

If the Patriots bring him in, they’ll be adding another space eater to help against the run. Along with Godchaux and Anderson, the Patriots also have Beau Allen, Bryron Cowart, Akeem Spence, Carl Davis, Michael Barnett and Bill Murray at defensive tackle.

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