The Patriots auditioned free agent defensive lineman Datone Jones today, while the Lions did the same on Saturday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link) and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).
If signed by New England, Jones would likely play a role similar to that of incumbent options Deatrich Wise or Adam Butler, tweets Doug Kyed of NESN — that is, an edge player who can slide inside on passing downs. A former first-round pick, Jones is capable of playing either in a 3-4 or 4-3 front, and his scheme versatility could prove valuable for a Patriots club that prides itself on flexibility.
While the Patriots are short on edge defenders, the Lions are arguably even less equipped along the front seven. Kerry Hyder, last season’s breakout contributor, is done for the season with a torn Achilles, while Khyri Thornton and Armonty Bryant won’t return from suspension until midseason. Detroit should have a well-formulated view of Jones after facing him as a member of the division rival Packers in each of the past four years.
Now entering his age-27 campaign, Jones has never quite lived up to his draft status, and surprisingly couldn’t make the squad in Minnesota even after inking a one-year, $3.75MM pact that included $1.6MM in guarantees. Jones logged a career-high four starts and amassed 548 snaps across 15 games last season, when he added 22 tackles, a sack and ranked 70th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 110 qualified edge defenders.
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