On Thursday, veteran defensive lineman Luis Castillo was released by the Chargers, who had earlier this offseason signed him to a one-year contract.
Prior to signing that deal, Castillo had visited with, amongst others, the Patriots.
The 28-year old ultimately decided to return to the franchise that drafted him in 2005, but now that he is once again available for singing, let’s examine the possibility of Castillo joining the Patriots.
Where does he fit? Castillo thrived (when healthy) in the Chargers 3-4 defense as an end, but seems to have many of the skills needed to perform in a 4-3 as well. The Patriots have a solid rotation of defensive ends already on their roster, but Castillo could be an intriguing option to play defensive tackle, particularly in sub-defense situations. At a shade under 300 pounds, Castillo has the size to hold up inside.
Measuring the competition. If signed, Castillo would enter a defensive line competition that will be fascinating to watch during training camp. The Patriots have a number of players who fall under near-lock status for the roster (including Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Fanene, Chandler Jones, Jake Bequette, and Trevor Scott), as well as a handful of others who could boast a strong case. Castillo would need a productive training camp, which would include showing he is fully recovered from a leg injury that cost him nearly all of 2011, to make a case to stick around.
The price tag. Castillo’s contract signed with the Chargers earlier this offseason was valued at $1 million for one year. Given that he is coming off of a major injury, and now a release, Castillo won't likely command top dollar as a free agent. The Patriots have a strong history of inking veteran free agents to shrewd, inexpensive contracts. Castillo likely wouldn’t be a major financial investment.
Timeline. One final factor to consider for Castillo is what we’ll continue to refer to as the “3-day free agent rule.” It states that if a team signs a player during training camp that had not previously been in training camp with another team, said player must adhere to a three-day acclimation period before he can fully participate in practices with his new team. If the Patriots have an interest in Castillo, or any other free agent (the team has one roster spot available as of today), it would seem wise to sign him before camp starts, rather than deal with the three-day grace period during camp.