The Patriot Philosophy

Regular contributor and Patriots specialist Matty O chimes in on the state of the Pats:

With the recent signing of Ben Watson to the Cleveland Browns, one point continues to be hammered home: The Patriots will not overpay for players.  As of March 5th, 2010 there has been much speculation as to which direction the New England Patriots would go in regards to available free agents.  Whether it was Julius Peppers, Aaron Kampman, Thomas Jones, or Ladanian Tomlinson.  Whether is was possible trades for Brandon Marshal or Anquan Boldin, the Patriots proved that no matter the amount of speculation, they stick to their philosophy of not overpaying for players.  The moves that the Patriots have made this off-season have been geared towards keeping their own players.  Resigning Vince Wilfork, Tully Banta-Cain, Leigh Bodden, Stephen Neal, and Kevin Faulk are all moves in which their importance is overlooked.  Many times, radio personalities and Patriot fans think they have solutions to the Patriots’ problems, when in fact their suggestions may not fit into Bill Belichick’s system.  Julius Peppers was considered to be the solution to the Pats’ pass rushing woes.  Yet, Peppers has never played any other position that 4-3 defensive end.  Yes, he amassed 10.5 sacks in the 2009 season, but after week 8 he only had 3.5 sacks.  His lack of desire and enthusiasm has always been put into question.  Could his good season last year be due to the fact that it was his contract year?  Whether or not Julius Peppers would fit into the 3-4 outside linebacker role is something that we will never know, but paying a guy 91.5 million dollars over six seasons (with $42 million guaranteed) isn’t the way to figure it out.  The same is true for Aaron Kampman.  He recently signed a four year, 26 million dollar contract with $11 million guaranteed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Green Bay Packers prove to be a prime example of what can happen when you place a player in a position where he does not fit.  Kampman was one of the better defensive ends in the league, compiling 43.5 sacks from 2005-2008.  When the Green Bay Packers brought in Dom Kapers as their defensive coordinator prior to the 2009 season and decided to switch to a 3-4 system, they assumed Kampman would easily make the transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker.  Their experiment proved to be unsuccessful as Kampman had only 3.5 sacks over 9 games before losing the rest of the season to injury.  Not only was Kampman unproductive, but he was unhappy with the transition and wasn’t afraid to vocalize his discontent.

              For the aforementioned reasons, the New England Patriots, in my opinion, have done a great job this off-season of avoiding the big price tag, and sticking to players that they know fit their system and have shown the ability to perform within their system.  We know that Vince Wilfork is one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL.  That Tully Banta-Cain can rush the quarterback (9.5 sacks in 2009) in Belichick’s system.  Stephen Neil is one of the better run blocking guards in the league.  Leigh Bodden is a very good second or thrid cornerback in their defensive scheme.  We all know how well Kevin Faulk performs his role as a third down running back.  I’m sure that the Patriots will look to keep making additions to their team, but don’t expect them to make any blockbuster signings or trades.

              All of this talk about sticking to the Patriot philosophy leads us to player’s who’s contracts are up in 2011.  These players include Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Gary Guyton, and Stephen Gostkowski.  In my opinion, I believe that the only players to remain Patriots after the 2011 free-agency period has ended will be Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, and Stephen Gostkowski.  Matt Light made the pro-bowl roster in 2007 (as an injury replacement) and in 2008 (as a starter).  Since his 2008 Pro Bowl season, Light has been plagued by injury and inconsistent play.  Also, the emergence of Sebastian Vollmer at the left tackle position makes Light (and his demand for left tackle money) expendable.  As effective as Randy Moss has been since he became a New England Patriot, his time here is coming to the end.  When Moss made the proclamation that, “…You know the Patriots don’t really pay, so when I got my second contract from them that was a blessing in disguise. I understand the business. I don’t think they’re going to re-sign me back. I’m not mad. I’m not bitter. It’s just the way things are in this NFL, so like I said after this year I’ll be looking for a new team.”  There was a lot of controversy about how Moss was causing trouble and stirring up nonsense.  Contrary to popular belief, I believe that Moss was in fact just telling the truth.  In 2007, at the age of 30 and following a season where he put up 553 yards and 3 touchdowns in Oakland, Moss was very lucky to get a three year $27 million deal, with $15 million guaranteed.  That contract was a “stretch” in the Patriot philosophy, giving an older veteran player an over market value deal for the production that he was giving you.  But, the contract, in regards to a current production standpoint, was a good deal for the Patriots.  But, after the 2010 season, Moss will be a 34 year old wide receiver who has battled several injuries over the last couple of seasons but will be looking for his last big pay day.  Sadly, it is not going to come from the New England Patriots.  They are not going to give Moss the $8-10 million annually that he is going to demand.  So, when Randy Moss allegedly “criticized” the Patriots’ organization, he was just telling the truth.  In regards to both Laurence Maroney and Gary Guyton, they are two completely different players from completely different situation.  Maroney, a former first round pick, has not lived up to expectations for many reasons.  Maroney’s lack of consistent playing time, playing in a pass-first offense, injury troubles, and inconsistent play have all contributed to him being a very inconsistent and underachieving player.  Guyton,  a former undrafted free agent signee, exceeded all expectations by becoming a starter on a decent Patriots’ defense, but his lack of size and inconsistent play don’t lead to Guyton being projected as a started for years to come.  Both Maroney and Guyton will not be resigned because they will receive better offers from other teams, and because the Patriots will not overpay for players.

              Just because the Pats won’t overpay for players doesn’t mean that all hope in the franchise is lost.  Consider this: Tully Banta-Cain recently signed a three year, $13 million deal, while in 2007 Adalius Thomas signed a five year, $35 million deal.  In 2009, Banta-Cain had 9.5 sacks, while Adalius Thomas had 3 sacks.  Bill Belichick has always done a decent job of finding mid to lower level free agents that don’t have a big price tag, but seem to fit and perform relatively well in the Patriot system.  The Patriots will continue to build through the draft (one first round selection and three second round selections in 2010) and keep signing those mid level free agents that fit into the system.  What you can expect is for the Patriots to deal away their 2011 first round pick that was received from Oakland for Richard Seymour (likely a top 10 pick) because, quite frankly, with the lack of a rookie salary cap, they don’t overpay for players.


Final Word: The Patriots will not abandon their philosophy!


One Response

  1. 100% agree with everything you said… but they’ve gota do something quick cause the Jets and Dolphins only seem to be getting better and better

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