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Monday, July 25, 2011
Thoughts on top free-agent rushers

By Mike Reiss

One theme that came to the forefront on Twitter this morning was some of the available free agents the Patriots might target after news of outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain's surgery.

Here are some thoughts on free agents who would be either 3-4 outside linebackers or a rush end on a four-man line or a different type of sub package:

Mark Anderson (Texans) -- Rush end for 4-3 teams who had 12 sacks as a rookie in 2006 with the Bears, but whose production has declined since.

Jason Babin (Titans) -- Has been a 3-4 outside linebacker, but after playing end in the Titans' 4-3 last season and racking up a career-high 12.5 sacks, that looks like his best fit.

Ray Edwards (Vikings) -- A pure 4-3 end who has totaled 29.5 sacks over his first five seasons. Played opposite Jared Allen, so some wonder how he'd do without such a dynamic player opposite him, but he still figures to command big cash.

Mathias Kiwanuka (Giants) -- The 28-year-old former Boston College star has had a few different roles with the Giants (4-3 end, 4-3 outside linebacker); was limited to three games in 2010 because of injury.

Travis LaBoy (49ers) -- Has totaled 28.5 sacks over six seasons, playing for three different teams.

Manny Lawson (49ers) -- Playing the first five years of his career in San Francisco, the former first-round pick has totaled 14.5 sacks.

Matt Roth (Browns) -- Has background in the 3-4 defense with the Dolphins (2005-2009) and Browns (2009-2010); with 20 career sacks.