In the world of general management, a businessman with a bleeding heart is a liability. Players cannot be seen as symbols of the team or members of a family; they are parts, pure and simple.
The parts function towards the machine's productivity, and as the parts age, they begin to rust and become less productive.
The New England Patriot machine was one with record-setting results to go along with three Super Bowl wins and another appearance.
However, the machine has gradually gotten rusty, and the parts were replaced one by one.
Just take a look at the rosters of the Patriots from 2001 to now. Only two players from the 2001 Super Bowl team were on the 2009 roster. They are Tom Brady and Kevin Faulk.
Everyone should know who Tom Brady is. Kevin Faulk is now an 11-year veteran running back who is used primarily on third downs.
Make no mistake about it. The Patriots are changing, and no one has immunity like in Survivor.
Even last year, there was discussion about the Patriots giving up Tom Brady in favor of his younger backup, Matt Cassel.
Matt Cassel was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, but now Tom Brady is a year older and, after his last embarrassing performance in the playoff game against the Ravens, he might be looked at as expendable.
The even larger reason why Tom Brady is more likely to be traded now is because of how recent many drastic changes have been made to the Patriots' roster.
In the 2008 offseason, the Patriots did not place the franchise tag on Asante Samuel, and he landed a six-year, $57.14 million contract on Feb. 29, 2008.
So, on the leap year day, Samuel took his own "leap" to a new home and the Patriots lost one of the top five corners in the NFL.
However, it was last year where the locker room took the biggest hit.
During the 2009 offseason, half the team's defensive playmakers left.
Mike Vrabel was included in a trade with Matt Cassel to go to Kansas City for the Chiefs' second-round draft choice.
Tedy Bruschi, after being the toughest guy in that locker room for coming back to professional football after a stroke, retired and is now an NFL analyst.
Rodney Harrison, the bad boy safety, retired as well after tearing multiple ligaments in his left knee. He is now an analyst for NBC.
They traded cornerback Ellis Hobbs to the Philadelphia Eagles for a pair of fifth-round draft picks. Now, he never won a Super Bowl with them, but I saw him play—he's a good player.
Then, in a great move by the Patriots, they traded 30-year-old defensive lineman Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for their 2011 first-round draft pick.
That's four defensive titans and a pretty good corner. All within one offseason.
That's just part of it. Long-time receiver Troy Brown has retired, as well. Cornerback Ty Law was released, Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch is with the Seahawks now, Lawyer Milloy is gone, Adam Vinatieri is gone, Randall Gay, Eugene Wilson; the list is long.
The Patriots pride themselves on being a "system." They take players of any caliber and make them work together to make one great team. They don't need 11 elite guys. They may not even need one to make top 10 defense in the league every year of this past decade except for 2000, 2002, and 2005.
Matt Cassel, a virtual nobody in the NFL at the time, had a very good season when he replaced Tom Brady. Twenty-one touchdowns to 11 interceptions, 3,693 yards passing, an 89.4 quarterback rating, 11 wins, and a 63.4 completion percentage.
This is a system team that just requires certain parts to make it work. Now I'm not saying Tom Brady is just a "part" per se, but they might think that.
The Patriots have never shown anything that I would call loyalty to their players. Tom Brady is looking for a contract extension and I'm not sure if he's at a stage where he is worthy of it. He looks as if he has hit his prime, but looks can be deceiving.
The business part of football may trade Tom Brady because he may no longer be of any use to them.
The 49ers got rid of Joe Montana, so it isn't like getting rid of a Super Bowl hero is unprecedented.
Is it right? I don't think so. I think Brady should retire a Patriot and, from what I've seen of Patriot fans, they'll want him to stay even if he doesn't win another Super Bowl.
He's won three, so they think that he's earned our love and our faith. That's the way my older friends felt about Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin in the second half of the '90s.
I was just a kid, but I remember how people felt when Emmitt Smith left the Cowboys. To see him in a Cardinals uniform was a sight that made me want to vomit and cry. That man should only be seen in blue and white with a tad of silver.
However, the Patriots' front office doesn't exactly give me the feeling that they are emotionally attached to their players.
That's why it wouldn't surprise me if Tom Brady ended up in another uniform.