BOSTON (CBS) — Don’t be surprised if you hear the name “Cassius Marsh” more than you think this season. The Patriots are giving the 25-year-old defensive end an opportunity to make an impact on what’s become a thinned-out pass rush.
Bill Belichick sent a 2018 fifth-round pick to the Seahawks for Marsh on Saturday, also sending back a seventh-round pick acquired from Seattle for cornerback Justin Coleman. The 6-foot-4 Marsh, a 2014 fourth-round pick, has played in 37 career games but started only one, recording three sacks and 41 total tackles.
Faced with an opportunity to see more playing time than he ever could have gotten in Seattle, Marsh is confident that he can find his way on the field for the Patriots sooner rather than later.
“I’m a fast learner,” Marsh told reporters at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. “I’ll figure it out, and I’ll do what I can to get on the field and help my teammates.”
Beyond his own struggles on the field in three NFL seasons, the defensive end could not find much opportunity on a crowded Seattle defensive front. Between Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark, the Seahawks are flush with talented pass rushers. Their addition of Sheldon Richardson from the Jets only made him even more expendable.
The trade blew the window of opportunity open for Marsh, who suddenly enters the Patriots locker room as one of the most experienced defensive ends on the roster. Only Lawrence Guy has played more career games (67) than Marsh’s 37. Considering the drop-off on the defensive end depth chart after Trey Flowers, Marsh has a good chance to see a healthy chunk of snaps as a situational pass rusher off the edge. He should at least be able to compete for playing time with Guy and rookie Deatrich Wise in those spots.
In the wake of the loss of Rob Ninkovich to retirement and rookie Derek Rivers to a torn ACL – and a disappointing training camp and preseason for now-Jets defensive lineman Kony Ealy – the Patriots will have to look to inexperienced or unheralded players to fill the spot opposite Flowers on the defensive line. Marsh will have as much of an opportunity as anyone to be that player.