The 21st century dynasty of the New England Patriots has seen way more highs than lows. Five Super Bowl appearances, dozens of records and legendary players have made this team one of the most feared teams in all of sports during the 2000s.
But everybody knows that Tom Brady is a good player. Everybody knows that Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time. What some people tend to forget are the players that nearly halted the dynasty and held the Patriots back.
This list looks at five recent players who did not do the Pats justice during their tenure. These five players in particular did not produce in New England, leaving fans happy to see their absence.
And while Pats fans should be joyful for all of their team's success, they should be equally happy that these five players no longer represent the franchise.
Laurence Maroney was drafted with the 21st overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft. He was supposed to create a two-headed rushing beast with Corey Dillon, but as fans know, things didn't work out.
Maroney had one true moment of brilliance, coming against the Bengals as a rookie. During that game, he took 15 carries and turned it into 125 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, all he did was create false hope and expectations.
He was traded to Denver during the 2010 season, ending an under-whelming marriage. Maroney finished with 2,430 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns in his Patriots career. He was later arrested as a member of the Broncos, assuring New England that trading him was the right decision.
Maroney was just too inconsistent to be the featured running back for New England. In fact, the recent running back-by-committee system has been far more effective.
Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson was a six-time Pro Bowler during his tenure as a Bengal. He was very obnoxious but very, very productive in the orange and black.
When the Patriots were able to acquire Johnson at a low price prior to the 2011 season, fans were anxious to see how good he could be with a Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady.
Well, they were completely fooled, as Johnson did absolutely nothing in a Pats uniform. In fact, Mike Vrabel was a better pass-catcher than Johnson was in New England.
Johnson caught 15 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown. He was completely under-whelming on the field but mature off it and did nothing to make the Patriots look bad in the media.
Well, apparently, Johnson did not mature and did not learn a thing from the discipline taught up north.
He was already causing trouble with coach Joe Philbin in Miami before his arrest, which got him cut from the Dolphins. Johnson had a lot of potential to do great things with a great quarterback, but No. 85 let his talent go to waste.
Though the risk-reward factor made the trade reasonable, Johnson disappointed greatly in New England. And with his recent troubles, too many people cannot be missing him right now.
It's not often that Bill Belichick and New England completely whiff on a high draft pick. Well, they were dead wrong on the player out of Florida.
The Patriots moved up 16 spots to draft Chad Jackson with the 36th pick of the 2006 NFL draft. As a rookie, Jackson caught 13 passes for 152 yards and three scores. In 2007, Jackson was active for four games and added one catch for 19 yards.
And that was his career as a Patriot.
Sure, injuries took their tole on Jackson's production in New England. But this near first-round draft pick was given up on after two seasons. If the Patriots can find starters that went undrafted, they could have done a lot better with their second-round choice.
Unfortunately, Jackson never rewarded New England for having faith in him. And I can't imagine too many fans that were heartbroken at Jackson's release.
Terrence Wheatley was drafted with the 62nd pick in the 2008 NFL draft. The second-round pick did absolutely nothing to reward the Patriots for the faith they had in him.
He only played in 11 games, starting in one before New England got rid of him in 2010. He finished his Patriots career with four tackles and two passes deflected. Those stats resemble nothing of a second-round pick who was supposed to be a big player as a defensive back.
His lack of development may have held New England back for a little bit. They whiffed on Wheatley, and their pass defense has been less than stellar since.
He is one of the big misses for a team that normally nails the draft, proving it is the player, not the scouts, with the problem.
If Colts fans love Reche Caldwell, what does that say about how Patriots fans feel about him?
Caldwell was only a Patriot for one year, in 2006, when he was brought in as a free agent. He had a decent regular season with over 60 receptions for over 700 yards. He had a good divisional-round playoff round against San Diego, catching seven passes for 80 yards and a score.
But the AFC Championship game left an image burned into the mind of any New England fan's brain—the look on Caldwell's face during the game.
Caldwell had two key drops in that AFC Championship game in which the Colts came back from an 18 point deficit to win 38-34 and advance to the Super Bowl. Caldwell looked like a deer in the headlights, with eyes that bugged out as if he knew the true significance of one of his two drops.
Why were Caldwell's eyes bugging out? The pass he dropped was a sure touchdown that would have most likely advanced New England back to the Super Bowl.
Though he was only a Patriot for one year, he came up empty when the Pats needed him the most.