Usually, when a team has been so great for so many years, they begin to taper off. The toughness and hard work required to dominate for a decade is too much after awhile, and it just seems easier to hold off, to shave the roster of proven veterans and rebuild through the draft.
This is not the case with the New England Patriots. Sure they recently traded away Mike Vrabel, a proven middle linebacker, leader of the defense, and above all else, a Bill Belichick favorite. But they did it for flexibility and to bring in other veterans. Along with the Vrabel trade to Kansas City for a second-round draft pick went Matt Cassell, the young-gun quarterback, who piloted the Tom Brady-less Pats to an 11-5 regular season record, and a narrow playoff miss.
More than flexibility and veteran presence, the trade to the hapless Chiefs freed up cap room for Belichick to address two of his team's biggest needs: defensive back and halfback.
Belichick swerved and maneuvered his way around the vast free-agent pool to lasso savvy veteran Shawn Springs, (three years, $10.5 million) and the formerly upstart Leigh Bodden (one year, $2.25 million), who was very successful in Cleveland before being cast away to the winless Lions, where he was lost and embarrassed in coverage.
However, a return to sanity with the Patriots is just the kind of medicine Bodden needs for a full recovery. These two moves stabilize a formerly weak secondary that was the Achilles' heel for the Pats in 2008.
Their move at running back, however, is the one that truly shows how ready the Patriots are to make a return to the "Big Dance." The original case of a great player stuck in a small market, Fred Taylor was a Pro-Bowl caliber runner with the Jags for 10 years. He finally made his first Pro-Bowl appearance in 2007, only to have his season ended by Tom Brady and the Bunch.
But in all seriousness, Freddy gives the Patriots a reliable, experienced churner to tote the rock, unlike Laurence "Baloney," and Green-Ben Ellis McJarvus, or something like that.
Maroney and Ellis can serve as good change-of-pace backs, in addition to Sammy Morris, and the underrated sixth-man/swingman Kevin Faulk—the greatest bench player in the history of the NFL.
These moves, in addition to New England re-signing a few of our own players, shows how Belichick is still the living football god and the only current coach worthy of carrying Vince Lobmardi's trophy. Above all, it shows how the true master behind the Patriots' ever steady machine is Belichick.
Take that Scott Pioli!
Can you imagine how good Tom Brady could be with the pressure of having to win every game? Now, he can. In fact, he can be more risky with the ball because he finally has a veteran to lean on when his arm hurts from throwing all of those touchdowns.
Take that Peyton Manning!