Speaking on an introductory conference call with Baltimore media on Tuesday, Spears indicated that among the other teams interested in him before he signed his new deal was the Patriots.
At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Spears has been most successful as a 3-4 defensive end throughout his career, a position he played last season with the Cowboys. From a Patriots' perspective, Spears projects as a 4-3 defensive tackle, and would have offered stout run defense to go along with good athleticism for the position.
The Patriots were also reportedly interested in new Browns defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, who landed a five-year deal to play as a 3-4 defensive end in Cleveland's new defensive scheme. In New England, Bryant too would have projected as a 4-3 defensive tackle who could have paired with Vince Wilfork on the interior of the line.
The interest in each of these players suggests that defensive tackle is a position to continue to monitor this offseason. The Patriots have already added former CFL standout Armond Armstead, but could be looking for more competition at the spot that was held by Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick last season. Love had a strong start followed by a late-season dip in performance, and both he and Deaderick enter the final year of their contracts in 2013.
The draft is also considered deep on defensive tackle talent, and could be an area that the Patriots address with one of their five selections.