Patriots Continue To Swing And Miss In Free Agency
The New England Patriots cut their roster down as mandated by the league on Friday evening. There were more than a few surprises as conversations swirled, and 53-man roster projections went to the garbage can just as quickly as NCAA March Madness brackets do. Branch didn’t make it? Fortson made it? This was just some of the commentary.
Some of the names we penciled in earlier this summer following free agency included Jonathan Fanene, Joseph Addai, Robert Gallery, and Bobby Carpenter. Now these players can be added to the list of recent Patriots free agency flops. When each player was signed it was easy to predict how they would fit in – they seemed to be nice pieces to the puzzle. Bill Belichick, however, did not like these pieces when seeing them in action.
Last season, while not free agents, the Patriots hand-picked and acquired Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco in what was a lockout shortened roster building period. In 2010 the Patriots severely missed on veteran free agent adds Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor. These are just a few of the players that fit into this “miss” category. It’s easy to look back and see none of the aforementioned players made an impact with the team.
Why is it that these players, who have had a proven track record (or were trying to revitalize their career), have come to Foxborough and find little success? That is the million dollar question. Is it that hard to evaluate talent in the NFL? Are these players simply over the hill? Are they resting on their laurels and trying to coast through and hope that gets them by? Are they not buying into the “Patriot way?” We may never know the exact answer.
Sure, there have been successful additions over the past few years. Brian Waters, Andre Carter, and Mark Anderson highlight a few that helped this team last year. There is very little to quibble about in the results either, as this team continues to be in the upper echelon in the league despite their success in free agency.
Free agent addition Steve Gregory is set to fill in at safety opposite Pat Chung. The veteran has an opportunity to join the ranks of the “hits” rather the “misses” with the regular season rolling around. It’s just hard to believe that he is just one of the few brought in this offseason that seized that opportunity.
During the Bill Belichick era, the success rate with free agent additions in recent memory is right up there with the inability to develop a drafted wide receiver. Thankfully, these conversations are usually overshadowed by the success does have on the field week in and week out.
It does get you thinking though, what if the team did begin to hit on some of the names they bring on board?