- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Patriots have agreed to a contract with veteran free-agent defensive lineman Damione Lewis, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The move adds depth to the team's defensive line, where the biggest hole is at right defensive end.
The 32-year-old Lewis has played mostly in 4-3 defenses, as a defensive tackle, with the Rams (2001-2005) and Panthers (2006-2009).
The Patriots, who play a base 3-4 alignment, value versatility among their defensive linemen and figure to see how Lewis (6-2, 301) looks at different spots across the line, but his primary value will probably come as an interior rusher, a role previously held by Jarvis Green (now with the Broncos) in sub situations. A contract for Lewis wouldn't figure to be a bank-breaker, so his addition looks like a low-cost move with little risk from a team perspective. It also gives the club some more flexibility entering the draft, and perhaps some more flexibility to play more with four linemen.
Ty Warren returns at left defensive end, with Vince Wilfork the starter at nose tackle. The big question comes at right defensive end, where six-year veteran Mike Wright would probably be the starter if the season opened today.
Second-year players Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Darryl Richard are also in the mix as backup options. Pryor is more of an interior presence, while Brace and Richard could also factor into the mix at end.
Lewis entered the NFL as a first-round draft choice out of the University of Miami (12th overall). He has been durable over the past two seasons, playing every regular-season game, while starting all but one. He had 41 tackles and a half-sack last season, and was released primarily because of salary considerations.