Any long time Patriots fan should not have been shocked over the Logan Mankins deal. Ten years ago, a deal like this would have put fans in a tizzy. Now, it barely raises an eyebrow.
Patriots fans have come accustomed to the Belichick Earthquake. Belichick always does some kind of a quirky personnel move early in the season to rattle the earth of Foxboro, Boston, and the surrounding regions. Here are a couple of moves, complete with Richter Scale ratings (I had no intention of going this way with this column, but that’s the beauty of writing):
7.9– Lawyer Milloy released in 2003. He was a key part of the Patriots first Super Bowl victory in 2002. One year later, he was cut five days prior to the start of the regular season. It led to ESPN commentator Tom Jackson claiming Patriots players hated Bill Belichick. The Patriots were so rattled that they lost the season opener to the Lawyer Milloy-led Buffalo Bills, 31-0. The Patriots would later beat the Bills by the same score on the final week of the season on their way to their second Super Bowl win.
7.1– Richard Seymour traded to the Raiders in 2009. Seymour was a five-time Pro Bowler when he got dealt to Oakland on September 6. He was also a three-time Super Bowl champion with New England. It could be argued the Patriots pass rush has never been the same since Seymour left.
6.6– Randy Moss gets traded to Minnesota- Moss was on his best behavior for three glorious years in Foxboro. 2007 was a dream year complete with a nightmare ending. Foxboro may never see a better receiver in a Patriots uniform for the rest of their existence than Moss. Things started to unfurl, however, in 2010 as Moss began turning into the disengaged personality that he is wont to be. It still didn’t make it any easier when Belichick dealt Moss after Week 4 leaving the Patriots with a ragtag group of receivers.
6.5– Patriots don’t re-sign Wes Welker prior to the 2013 season. Tom Brady had taken a pay cut, seemingly, to make way to pay for the Patriots to re-sign Welker. It didn’t work out that way and Brady was left to say, “Uggg.” To make matters worse, Welker signed with the Denver Broncos to play with Peyton Manning. People were left to speculate if it was something personal between Belichick and Welker.
6.2– Ty Law (2005) and Asante Samuel (2008) leave via free agency. I’ll clump these two in together because the Patriots secondary has never been the same since the departure of those two. This may be the first year that will change.
5.7– Adam Vinatieri leaves via free agency. Belichick chose not to sign the kicker that helped him win three Super Bowls, including the greatest kick I will ever see, in the snow in Foxboro against Oakland. The decision, while disappointing, wasn’t earth shattering because A) Viantieri is a kicker and B) the Patriots had a viable replacement in Stephen Gostkowski. But it still hurt the heart– something the Patriots don’t have.
4.5– Patriots release two-time Pro Bowler safety Brandon Meriweather in 2011. Meriweather has become a punchline now, but at the time, it was a bit controversial to cut Meriweather. Especially when you consider, a few days earlier, the Patriots released their other veteran safety, James Sanders. Did I mention how the Patriots secondary sucked since they chose not to re-sign Law and Samuel?
3.8– Patriots trade Laurence Maroney to Denver in 2010. I know, I know. It was Laurence Maroney. But the Patriots did invest a first round draft pick on him in 2006. That’s why it still came as a bit of a surprise when the Patriots dealt him mid-September in 2010.
I will throw in two more controversial Bill Belichick personnel moves from his illustrious coaching career in order to steer me back to my original point of writing this column:
7.3– Cleveland head coach, Bill Belichick, releases Bernie Kosar in 1991. Kosar was a legend in Cleveland. One of Belichick’s first moves when he got hired as coach of the Browns was to bench Kosar in favor of Vinnie Testaverde. A few weeks later, Belcihick got rid of Kosar, entirely. I am old enough to remember the shock waves that sent through the city of Cleveland.
6.7– Belichick chooses Brady over a healthy Drew Bledsoe in 2001. All seemed lost when Bledsoe almost got killed in an early season game against the Jets in 2001. Things turned out fine as Belichick turned to his veteran backup, John Friesz. Uh, no. Things worked out fine as he turned to his backup and fan favorite, Michael Bishop. Uh, no. Who is this guy, Tom Brady? He’s going to be starting for us? God help us. Brady excelled as a “game manager” and when Bledose was ruled healthy to play again, Belichick made the controversial decision to stick with his fourth-string quarterback. It resulted in a Super Bowl victory.
So why do I mention all these cases? I think you know why. You just don’t want to come to grips with it and I completely understand. But I am going to say it. Brace yourself, Patriots fans, for the day when you see Tom Brady finishing out his career in another uniform.
It was weird seeing O.J. Simpson in a San Francisco uniform at the end. It was beyond strange to see Joe Montana in a Kansas City uniform. It was bizarre seeing Brett Favre in a New York Jets and a Minnesota Vikings uniform. That’s just the way sports has become. It’s not just a Belichick thing. Very rarely do players get to go out on their own terms, a la Derek Jeter.
Tom Brady is signed through 2017. The Patriots just drafted a quarterback in the second round of the 2014 draft. The Patriots drafted three offensive linemen in the 2014 draft. Logan Mankins is no longer on the Patriots. Get it?
Belichick is all about value. He didn’t think Mankins’ game warranted the $6 million he was scheduled to make, so he’s gone. How about in two years when Brady is 39? What if Belichick doesn’t think Brady warrants the $8M or $9M he is scheduled to make? Does anyone doubt that Belichick will Kosar/Bledsoe (yes, I am making them into verbs) Brady?
Brady says he wants to play into his 40s. I always thought he would finish his career for his hometown San Francisco 49ers team. That may all depend on the continued development of Colin Kaepernick. But I am also preparing myself for the thought of him finishing his career wearing a Cardinals, Rams, or Vikings uniform. You should, too.