Burgess trade fills New England's biggest need

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The rest of the AFC East won't be thrilled about this.

The New England Patriots not only addressed what might have been their biggest need, but they also acquired a darn good player to fill it.

New England on Thursday finally obtained a veteran pass rusher to replace outside linebacker Mike Vrabel, trading undisclosed draft choices to the Oakland Raiders for pass-rusher Derrick Burgess.

In Oakland, he played defensive end. He projects as an outside linebacker for the Patriots' 3-4 defense.

Burgess is a two-time Pro Bowler who was unhappy with his contract. He became expendable when the Raiders signed Greg Ellis, whom the Dallas Cowboys had released and also was presumed headed to the Patriots. So was Jason Taylor. So was Julius Peppers.

But they landed Burgess. He played only 10 games last year and recorded 3.5 sacks, his lowest output in four years. He led the NFL with 16 sacks in 2005 and added 11 more the next year.

The move makes the Patriots more versatile and scarier on defense.