Ranking Bill Belichick's 4 Best Moves of the NFL Offseason
The offseason is when Bill Belichick makes the rest of the NFL look silly. He consistently finds steals in the draft, stock piles draft picks, finds veterans who need a change of scenery he can get on the cheap and grabs veterans who are chasing a ring.
No other team in the NFL really had this luxury until Philadelphia had their monstrous offseason. Belichick has used his cache as a perennial powerhouse and star maker to make sure players always have them as a top destination.
The Patriots have been very busy thus far in the offseason, and they can be expected to be just as busy once teams start trimming down their roster and the Patriots again go bargain hunting.
So far, the offseason has reaped rewards in terms of draft picks and veterans, but which moves were the best? Here are Bill Belichick and the Patriots' top four moves.
4. Trading for Albert Haynesworth
The Patriots are clearly transitioning to a 4-3 defense, and that means you need two big defensive tackles. Vince Wilfork was already on the roster as a run-stuffer. They needed to add a tackle who could get up field.
With the Patriots "Buy Low, Sell High" motto, they went after Albert Haynesworth, whose value in Washington could barely have gotten any lower.
Haynesworth, when motivated, is one of the most dominant linemen in the NFL on either side of the ball. He is an incredible athlete for his size and uses his surprising athleticism to get to the quarterback.
With the Patriots swapping their defensive alignment to match what Haynesworth is most comfortable in, there should be no problem with getting him to play. The problem will be getting him motivated.
Restructuring Haynesworth's contract to make sure he only gets paid if he makes the Week 1 roster is the ultimate motivator for Haynesworth, whose main motivation seems to be, in the immortal words of Randy Moss, "Straight cash homie!"
3. Drafting Ryan Mallett
Having a guy who should have been a first-round pick slide into the third round should raise some alarms. In New England it raises alarms as well, but the alarm is for bargains.
Ryan Mallett is a poster boy for getting a publicist. There were rumors about some type of character issue that no one could specifically pinpoint. Mallett either needed to come completely clean or deny whatever was being said (Does anyone truly know what the character concern was, to this day?) so that we all could move on. He never did, and he saw his first contract's value plummet with every passing draft pick.
The Patriots need a successor to Brady, Mallett might not be it. The Patriots also know that a solid backup quarterback can be turned into a first- or second-round draft pick. Either way, Mallett had unlimited potential as a third rounder.
If it were not for Jake Locker's first snaps, Mallett might have been the most impressive rookie quarterback to play in a preseason game so far. The Patriots look like they hit a home run with this guy.
2. Re-Signing Logan Mankins
Logan Mankins is the current leader of the Patriots offensive line. Having him back in red, white and blue does nothing but solidify the offensive line for years to come.
The Patriots missed him during the first portion of last season. Mankins is a tough interior lineman who adds a "meanness" to the Patriots line.
With Stephen Neal gone and Matt Light in the latter part of his career, Mankins will be the person who helps transition this team to its next phase. With Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer as the newest of the Patriots linemen, having someone to guide them will be key to the Patriots success for years to come.
Signing Mankins also put a huge, dramatic issue in the background. The feud between Robert Kraft and Mankins, whether real or perceived, could have disrupted the team's chemistry. Signing Mankins basically squashed that.
1. Trading for Chad Ochocinco
I have written it before, I will write it again: This is a great move.
Ochocinco was on a losing team and had to use his personality as the only way to remain relevant. Some things you just have to do to keep your name in people's thoughts. It's understandable.
Now that he is in New England, with a coach and a quarterback he admires, there should be no reason for quite as much nonsense.
That doesn't mean Ochocinco will always be quiet, but it should mean his focus will shift to the field.
Ochocinco should see a bounce from Tom Brady, just like Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Deion Branch all have. This doesn't mean Ochocinco will lead the league in touchdowns or yardage but a 1,000-yard, seven touchdown season isn't out of the question.
He is the class clown. That's his personality, but it rarely affected his performance on the field. His focus should only get better in New England.