The Patriots have signed Bengals defensive end/tackle Jonathan Fanene to a three-year contract, according to a league source.
He would figure to play the left end role where Brandon Deaderick and Shaun Ellis played last season, but the 6-4, 292-pounder can play all over the line. As usual with a Patriots pickup, Fanene has a lot of versatility.
The seventh-round pick by the Bengals out of Utah in 2005 is a good, solid football player who is tough to move in the run game, and has a little pass rush potential -- something that Bill Belichick will probably take more advantage of than the Bengals did. Fanene had 13.5 sacks in past two full seasons, 2011 and 2009 ('10 was basically wiped out with hamstring injuries).
The Patriots are probably hoping Fanene, 29, can fill the role envisioned for Shaun Ellis last season. Deaderick could kick more inside to tackle, but the bottom line is Fanene gives the team a legit run-stuffing end who can get after the quarterback when needed. He could definitely play closer to the ball in subpackages, perhaps to alleviate some of Vince Wilfork's snap count.
Talked to a league source who has studied Fanene and thinks he's a good fit for a 3-4 team at the three technique (outside shoulder of the guard), which is where the Patriots tried to fit Albert Haynesworth. So, all sorts of versatility.