It broke yesterday that the Patriots two big-name offseason acquisitions, Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, may be cut before the start of the season.
I imagine that many anti-Patriots fans had their "I told you so" faces on as they read that headline, while I'm sure most Patriots fans are scrambling to figure out what coach Bill Belichick is doing this time.
The New England Patriots have developed the reputation of being a very tight run ship. The players only say what coach Belichick wants them to say and if you've ever heard a coach Belichick press conference, then you would know that it is next to nothing.
The organization has used this reputation to their advantage to bring in what some would call "troubled" players like Corey Dillon and Randy Moss. In both cases, these acquisitions worked out in the Patriots favor early on. Most importantly, the Patriots had positioned themselves to get out of these deals if necessary with little or no risk.
They raised the stakes with this strategy bringing in spotlight hog Chad Ochocinco and the overweight Albert Haynesworth.
The instant reaction was the Patriots are pressing their luck.
Even with ESPN's Mike Reiss dismissing the talk, the debate is on across the football world. Personally, I feel it would be a huge mistake.
Here is a few reasons why.
As usual, the Patriots made the smart move of restructuring both Haynesworth and Ochocinco's contracts.
According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, Haynesworth is only guaranteed $1.5 million this year. The rest of his money will come from incentives mostly based around playing time.
He won't see a big contract increase until 2012 where his pay would go up to $6.7 million along with an additional $500,000 in bonuses. Essentially, he is here trying to earn his spot—which is nothing but good news for the Patriots.
The absolute worst case scenario for the Patriots with Haynesworth is that he hasn't changed. You give him a chance to play, he is still out of shape, he is out the door. Simple as that.
It is Haynesworth's opportunity to lose.
As for Ochocinco he took a much smaller cut.
In exchange for an extension of one year, Ochocinco basically cut his base salary from $6 million to $5.5 million this year. After this year his base salary drops to $3 million per.
So why not at least see what they can do start the season?
The Patriots are nowhere near cap trouble and with so little money committed; it just doesn't make sense to cut either one of them before the season starts.
It was clear that both Ochocinco and Haynesworth were desperate for a change of scenery.
Ochocinco was at the point of getting into verbal confrontations with his coach and doing everything but worrying about getting ready for the NFL season.
Haynesworth was clearly more concerned with the local Washington, D.C., area buffets rather than coming into camp in shape.
Now both players got their wish and ended up on a team that without them was 14-2.
Ochocinco isn't the same receiver he was two or three years ago. He has clearly lost a step, but still has a skill set that could thrive in a good system with a great quarterback throwing to him. More importantly, New England could be his last shot at a Super Bowl ring.
Haynesworth has been labeled as a lost cause. Unmotivated, out of shape and a distraction have been some of the labels thrown around in the same sentence as Albert's name.
Now he is in a situation where his antics won't be tolerated. His paycheck and his career all rely on whether or not he can get on the field in shape.
Both men know what is expected out of them and what the consequences will be if they don't meet those expectations.
The ball is in their court and that is just the way Belichick wants it.
All problems aside, both of Haynesworth and Ochocinco have talent.
Haynesworth didn't earn that massive contract in Washington for being overweight. He earned it for being a monster on the defensive line that gave offensive linemen and quarterbacks nightmares.
Ochocinco wouldn't have a chance to come up with all of his creative celebrations if he wasn't in the end zone as often as he is.
The Patriots know this. Granted they are both a few seasons removed from being those players, but they can still be put in the position to succeed. This is one of Belichick's strongest fields.
The one thing that most are forgetting about Chad Ochocinco is that for as much of a character he is, he is a competitor. He wants to play and he wants to win.
Ochocinco has a respect for Belichick that clearly wasn't there with the coaching staff in Cincinnati and I have a feeling that he won't mind catching passes from Tom Brady either. The end game for Chad isn't the money; it is all about the ring.
Haynesworth being on the same defensive line as guys like Vince Wilfork, Shaun Ellis and company is a very scary thought. If it pans out, the Patriots could have one of the most intimidating defensive lines in the league.
If they both happen to maximize their potential in New England?
We could easily be seeing the Patriots taking the field this February.