Four years ago it felt like Brandon Meriweather was going to be the next great safety in Patriots' history. Like Lawyer Milloy and Rodney Harrison, before him, Meriweather was going to fly around the field stuffing running backs and baiting quarterbacks into throwing interceptions. Visions of him forcing fumbles and hitting receivers so hard they'd stop going over the middle danced in my head.
Turns out it didn't exactly work out that way. In my first column for the Bleacher Report I outlined the four tier system for which we should classify draft picks. The second class is the Slight Misfires, which is where guys like Daniel Graham, Ben Watson, Laurence Maroney and Brandon Meriweather belong. I know it's frustrating when a guy you have high hopes for doesn't exactly pan out (like Drew Bledsoe) but we shouldn't write off Meriweather as a stiff.
On the bright side, he was pretty durable. He played in all 64 games and started 40 of them. His stats in the playmaking categories were respectable; 261 tackles, two sacks, 27 passes defended, 12 interceptions and five forced fumbles. He was the only draft pick the team made in 2007 that worked out. Of course Randy Moss and Wes Welker are a part of that draft class but they came in trades.
On the down side, it seemed as if he never really got better. The angles he took to tackle players were often bad. Many times he would collide with a teammate and give up a big play. His ability to channel his aggressive mentality was not always the best.
Take last year's hit on Todd Heap. Ten years ago a hit like that would be great but not in today's game. With the news about the severity of concussions and the steps the league has taken Meriweather should've known a hit like that would mean a 15-yard penalty and $50,000 fine from Roger Goodell.
The media likes to say how difficult Bill Belichick is to read. Most of the time they are right—99.9 percent of time trying to figure out what Bill Belichick is thinking is like trying to teach a monkey how to speak Japanese. It's pretty much impossible, but the release of Meriweather is pretty straightforward.
The team was patient with Mr. VIP on Swole, but after four years you should stop trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Various media outlets reported Meriweather was in the coach's doghouse because he would freelance and deviate from the plans the coaching staff laid out.
Bottom line is Brandon Meriweather's attitude had to go. Last year the team did a good job of weeding out bad apples like Adalius Thomas and Mr. Straight Cash Homey that were detrimental to the team. Meriweather is the next shoe to drop. To a certain extent his release does shine a light on how the team had a bad slump drafting from 2006 to 2008.
Things will be OK. Over the past 11 years, how many players have the Patriots cut/let a draft pick go where it really came back to haunt them? Not that many. Randy Moss didn't set the world on fire when he was in Minnesota. Neither did Derrick Burgess or Adalius Thomas. Joey Galloway? Not really. Donald Hayes? Nope. The Patriots did just fine when they let Damien Woody walk. Lawyer Milloy was replaced by Rodney Harrison.
Off the top off my head Greg Spires had some success in Tampa and Jermaine Wiggins played well in Minnesota, Ted Larsen is doing well with Tampa and Ryan O'Callaghan started for Kansas City.
The Patriots will do just fine without Brandon Meriweather.