Patriots reportedly targeting Redskins linebacker to bolster their pass rush

One of the Patriots' biggest needs heading into the offseason is improving a pass rush that disappeared for long stretches in 2017. Because there doesn't appear to be much help via free agency, the draft might yield the best return for New England. But that doesn't mean Bill Belichick won't be looking for solutions between now and late April, when the NFL Draft takes place.

Which explains why, according to ESPN's Jenna Laine, the Patriots are one of three teams hoping to land linebacker Trent Murphy, the Redskins' 2014 second-round pick who missed last season with a torn ACL.

Murphy had 2.5 sacks as a rookie and 3.5 in 2015 but broke out the following season. He ranked 25th among all edge rushers in 2016, registering nine sacks and three forced fumbles. It's not surprising that the Patriots have competition for Murphy' services. Laine reports that the Buccaneers -- the league's worst pass-rushing unit a year ago -- is also interested, and NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay reported earlier in the week that the Redskins offered Murphy a contract even though the defense ranked fourth in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate without him in '17.

The Patriots, meanwhile, have talked to 39-year-old James Harrison about returning next season, according to Masslive.com. And while Harrison has said he'd like to play into his 40s, it's no surprise that five of six of the most recent CBSSports.com mock drafts have New England using a first-round pick to bolster the front seven or secondary.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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