The New England Patriots have in the past been able to work well with talented, yet disgruntled players that allowed their unhappiness in their former playing situation affect their on the field performance.
New England is once again rolling the dice with a couple of these cases in Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco. On Thursday, the Patriots pulled off a pair of risky trades to bring in both of those players.
First, the Patriots traded a 5th round draft pick to the Redskins in exchange for Albert Haynesworth. Later in the day, New England completed a deal to bring Chad Ochocino over from the Bengals for a 2012 5th rounder and a 2013 6th rounder.
This isn’t the first time the Patriots have traded for a talented player with a lot of baggage, and in the past, these kinds of deals have paid off for Bill Belichick and company.
Belichick is just the kind of guy to handle these personalities as we have seen in the past.
Corey Dillon had six consecutive 1000+ yard seasons with the Bengals to start his NFL career, but he had a number of off the field troubles and publicly slammed the team and Bengals owner Mike Brown in the media.
The Bengals had enough, and shipped Corey Dillon to the Patriots in exchange for a 2004 second round draft pick that turned into free safety Madieu Williams.
The very next season, Corey Dillon would rush for a career high 1,635 yards for the Patriots, helping the team capture the Super Bowl. Dillon spent two more years with the Patriots, but couldn’t replicate that same success as his first season in New England.
It still turned out very well for the Patriots, and Dillon was a key component of that Super Bowl team.
That wasn’t the only case where a trade like that worked out for New England. In 2007, the Patriots sent a 4th round pick (CB John Bowie) to the Raiders in exchange for Randy Moss.
Moss, who had seven great seasons with the Vikings, was shipped to Oakland in 2005 after becoming unhappy with his situation in Minnesota, and he pretty much fell off the face of the Earth for two seasons in the Black Hole.
He had over 1000 yards in 2005 with the Raiders, but in 2006 he had just 553 receiving yards in 13 games. A lot of players have become dissatisfied in Oakland for a number of reasons, and the Patriots took advantage of that by acquiring one of the best receivers in the game for just a 4th round pick.
Moss, reenergized by the opportunity to play for a winner, had a record-breaking season with the Patriots in 2007. Patriots QB Tom Brady had an MVP season and an NFL record 50 touchdown passes that same season.
Moss had 1,493 receiving yards, and an NFL record 23 touchdown receptions to help lead New Englandto an undefeated regular season. The Patriots went on to lose to the Giants in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history to finish 18-1.
Moss had two more good seasons with the Patriots before he was traded last season back to the Vikings, who ultimately cut him, and he finished the year with the Titans.
The point is, the Patriots have gotten the best out of players that are extremely talented, but teams gave up on due to off the field issues, or just being lazy.
That won’t fly with Bill Belichick, and Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocino better come in ready to work, or they won’t be around long in Foxborro.
Chad Ochocinco is less of a risk than Albert Haynesworth in my opinion. Ochocinco is 33, but he still has something left in the tank, and I’m willing to bet he gives the Patriots everything he has left in the tank in search of getting a ring.
He’s just a year removed from a 1000 yard season, and his numbers should go up with Tom Brady throwing him the ball. This move also gives the Patriots a true outside threat, and allows Wes Welker to move back into the slot.
It won’t be long before Chad Ochocinco is Chad Johnson once again, and we will probably see a large decrease in his twitter activity.
Albert Haynesworth is the bigger risk. Even when he was playing well in Tennessee, he had problems keeping his nose clean on and off the field. But, when he is motivated, he is one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL.
He had 8.5 sacks in his last season in Tennessee, and his production led to the Redskins giving him a 7-year $100-million contract. But, in his two years in Washington, he had just 6.5 sacks, and played in only 20 games.
Haynesworth was unhappy being utilized as a nose guard in Washington’s 3-4 defensive scheme. The Patriots’ base defense is the 3-4, but Vince Wilfork mans the nose for New England. The Pats mix up their defensive schemes, and Haynesworth will be in a more comfortable 3 or 5-technique role with the team.
Both of these trades come with some risk, but it’s not like New England gave up a lot if they don’t pan out. In the end, they gave up three later round draft picks, and they will probably gain those picks back when they rip off another team.
But, smart money is on both Ochocinco and Haynesworth having pretty good seasons this year, and in a few years we all look back on this amazed that the Patriots did it again.