5 New England Patriots Who Played Their Last Game Under Bill Belichick
After a gut-wrenching loss last night in Super Bowl XLVI, the New England Patriots must now turn their attention to the offseason, where they will have plenty of work to do on a team that was just three minutes away from winning its fourth Super Bowl trophy.
Bill Belichick is known for making the difficult decisions when it comes to players; if they aren't going to help the team win, they aren't needed.
Belichick, as well as the coaching staff and management, must make more difficult choices this offseason when evaluating their players.
Here are some players who may fall victim.
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Although Kevin Faulk and Bill Belichick seem to have a great relationship, Faulk's time in New England is most likely up.
Faulk missed most of the 2010-11 season with a torn ACL and only played in seven games.
In those games, Faulk only managed 17 carries for 57 with zero touchdowns rushing the football. His receiving stats are also unimpressive; just seven receptions for 34 yards and zero touchdowns.
Faulk has been a career Patriot after coming out of LSU and has been a part of three Super Bowl-winning teams. Unfortunately, old age has caught up to Faulk.
However, I don't expect that we've seen the last of Faulk in New England entirely. I can certainly see him coming back to serve as a coach or assistant in some capacity in the future.
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Let's face it. The Chad Ochocinco experiment didn't work out.
Although a model citizen and teammate during the 2011-12 campaign for the Patriots, Ochocinco did not produce very much of anything on the field.
He was also a non-factor is every playoff game and his only catch was in Super Bowl XLVI. After his catch, Ochocinco's name was never spoken again.
In the regular season, Ochocinco managed only 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown. Pretty lackluster for a player who used to light up the scoreboard and end zone with his on-the-field antics in Cincinnati.
Ochocinco is owed $3.1 million in the upcoming season. That's a lot of money for a guy who will only catch 15 Tom Brady passes.
The Patriots will cut their losses and take one on the chin by letting Ochocinco go. I don't expect many fans to shed any tears over his departure.
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Deion Branch, must like Kevin Faulk, is a Bill Belichick guy.
Unfortunately for Branch, his production dropped this season and the Patriots will likely look elsewhere for more production from the wide receiver position.
Branch is a former Super Bowl MVP with the Patriots, but his age and lack of size could cause the Patriots to cut ties with the wideout unless he accepts a team-friendly deal.
Branch had 51 receptions for 702 yards and five touchdowns this season. Not a bad complement to Gronkowski, Hernandez and Welker, but Branch didn't provide the deep threat the Patriots are lacking.
For the Patriots, they can find the same production in a younger, more skilled wide receiver.
Just a year removed from his first career 1,000-yard rushing season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis could have played his last game as a Patriot in Super Bowl XLVI.
While Green-Ellis missed time this season due to injury, he was still able to manage 667 yards rushing with 11 touchdowns in an offense built around the pass.
However, the Patriots drafted two running backs in the second round of the 2011 Draft and also have Danny Woodhead on the roster. The Patriots will not overpay when they do not have to.
This is the case with Green-Ellis.
Green-Ellis will probably look for a better-paying starting gig elsewhere as a free agent unless he decides to take a substantial hometown discount.
While Green-Ellis proves to be the only "power" back on the Patriots, look for him to be wearing a different uniform come 2012.
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Andre Carter was a bright spot for the New England defense early this season, but after tearing his ACL against the Broncos, his short time with the Patriots may be over.
Carter signed a one-year deal with the Patriots this past offseason and was able to make an impact right away.
Before being lost for the season, Carter racked up 51 tackles, 10.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 games.
Unfortunately for Carter, being a 33-year-old defensive lineman with a bad knee isn't too appealing to a team needing a pass-rusher.
Carter will certainly get a shot with some team, but the Patriots will look to get younger on the line through the draft or free agency.