Shelton is a first-time free agent, hitting the market after the Patriots in 2018 declined to pick up his fifth-year option. He played well in a part-time capacity this past season, grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 27 overall interior defender. But Shelton was also a healthy scratch for multiple Pats games, clouding his appeal on the market.
A better run defender than pass rusher, the 6’2″, 345-pound Shelton played on roughly a third of New England’s defensive snaps a year ago, the lowest playing time percentage of his career. In 13 games, Shelton 21 tackles (one for loss) and one quarterback hit. The Patriots originally acquired Shelton and a fifth-round pick from the Browns in exchange for a third-round selection in March 2018.
Cincinnati’s entire defense was a mess last season, and the Bengals couldn’t stop anyone on the ground, ranking 30th in Football Outsiders‘ adjusted line yards. Shelton could potentially help in that capacity, although his playing time would likely come at the expense of promising fourth-year nose tackle Andrew Billings.
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