<
>

Schobel could help other AFC East clubs

The Buffalo Bills will need to be careful in how they handle their break from pass-rusher Aaron Schobel.

Their best bet would be to trade him for as little as a late-round draft pick, not only to get an asset for their troubles, but also to have some sort of control over where Schobel lands.

Problem is, interested teams know the Bills have had it with Schobel. Bills general manager Buddy Nix publicly declared Schobel never will play for them again. So teams won't be as motivated to make a trade. They'll just wait for the Bills to cut him.

As a free agent, Schobel will have his choice of multiple suitors and could haunt the Bills by staying in the AFC East. While the Bills are in rebuilding mode and can dump the dithering Schobel in good conscience, their division rivals have loftier goals.

Teams can always use a proven pass-rush specialist.

He'll turn 33 in a month, but he's only two years removed from his second Pro Bowl honor. He has recorded 78 sacks in his nine NFL seasons.

The New England Patriots are an obvious possibility. They are thin at outside linebacker. Derrick Burgess has declined to report to training camp and is contemplating retirement. The Patriots released Shawn Crable last week.

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss examined the possibility Bill Belichick would pursue Schobel, noting Schobel has been a Patriots killer over the years -- in terms of sacks if not victories.

The Miami Dolphins also have questions at outside linebacker. They've moved on from Joey Porter and Jason Taylor, and while they're excited about prospects Cameron Wake and Koa Misi, a veteran presence on the edge never hurts a team's playoff chances.

And what about the New York Jets? They identified their pass rush as an area to address over the offseason. The Jets brought Taylor aboard to join Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. The Jets might seem set at outside linebacker, but head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have been collecting players. They even explored Terrell Owens last week and eventually added Laveranues Coles despite already having a formidable receiver corps.