|Summer Blockbusters: Patriots 5 most impactful personnel moves between start of camp and regular season of Bill Belichick era||08.03.15 at 2:17 pm ET|
The team-building process doesn’t stop at the end of free agency; franchises are always looking to augment their roster. With that in mind, here’s a look at the five most important personnel moves the Patriots have made over the summer months during the Bill Belichick era.
Aug. 19, 2003 — Trade fourth-round pick to Chicago for nose tackle Ted Washington: The 2002 Patriots struggled to stop the run, and as the 2003 season dawned, it remained the Achilles’ heel of the defense. Enter the massive Washington, who was able to play a sizable role (pun intended) in helping craft a championship run defense. The 6-foot-5, 365-pounder shut things down up front in his lone season with the Patriots.
Aug. 2, 2009 — Sign free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich: The former backup long snapper had been released by the Saints, but the Patriots scooped him up off the street for nothing. He started as a special teamer, and quickly worked his way into the starting lineup. The 31-year-old has turned into one of the foundational elements of the New England defense — in his six years with the Patriots, he has 35.5 sacks, including three straight seasons with eight sacks or more.
Aug. 6, 2009 — Trade third- and fifth-round picks to Oakland for linebacker Derrick Burgess: The 6-foot-2, 266-pounder out of Ole Miss was acquired by the Patriots roughly a month before the start of the 2009 regular season, and came away with five sacks and a forced fumble in his one year in New England.
July 29, 2011 — Trade fifth-round pick to Washington for defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth; trade fifth- and sixth-round picks to Cincinnati for wide receiver Chad Ochocinco: While these moves weren’t particularly impactful (Haynesworth was gone before the end of the season and Ochocinco looked terrified of making a mistake every time he took the field with New England), they made the list just because they were two outsized personalities who were acquired just after the lockout ended.
Aug. 26, 2014 — Trade offensive lineman Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick: The Patriots’ most surprising personnel move of the year saw the venerable guard shipped out of town in exchange for Wright, a move tight end who worked to complement starter Rob Gronkowski. While Wright didn’t have overwhelming numbers (and was cut the following offseason), he did set a new mark for dependability as a member of the New England passing attack.
|Ex-Patriot Chad Johnson will serve 30 days in jail||06.10.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
Former Patriots receiver Chad Johnson (previously know as Chad Ochocinco) was sentenced to 30 days in jail Monday for violating probation after he was admonished by a judge in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for not taking the proceedings seriously.
Johnson had a plea deal that would have avoided jail time, but when Johnson playfully slapped his male attorney on the rear end to show his satisfaction, eliciting laughter from the courtroom, Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh abruptly rejected the deal. Despite Johnson’s apology, McHugh sentenced him to the jail time along with a three-month extension of his probation.
“I don’t know that you’re taking this whole thing seriously,” said McHugh, who noted that Johnson has misbehaved in the courtroom before. “I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this? The whole courtroom was laughing. I’m not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn’t a joke.”
Said Johnson: “This is your courtroom. I have no intent to make this a joke. It’s not funny. My life is in a shambles right now and I try my best to laugh and keep a smile on my face.”
In an interview with ESPN last week, Johnson claimed that his probation violation was the result of a “miscommunication” with his probation officer and that he accepted responsibility.
“I’m going to be OK,” he said. “I’m OK now, but I put myself in this situation and I have to deal with everything. With life, I’m at peace with everything. I would love to finish my career off the right way. If it happens, I’m not sure. But I would like to.”
Johnson, 35, has not played in the NFL since his disappointing 2011 season in New England following a decade of production with the Bengals. He signed with the Dolphins before the 2012 season but was cut in training camp, after the incident with his then-wife that landed him in trouble with the law. Johnson allegedly head-butted Evelyn Lozada during an argument. Johnson pleased no contest to the domestic violence charge, while Lozada filed for divorce after one month of marriage.
|Ex-Patriot Chad Johnson surrenders to police in Florida||05.20.13 at 1:22 pm ET|
Former Patriots wide receiver Chad Johnson turned himself in to police and was arrested Monday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on charges that he violated probation. His bail was set at $1,000.
An arrest warrant was issued earlier this month after Johnson failed to meet with his probation officer and did not show proof of enrollment in a domestic violence education class. He has another hearing set for June 3.
Johnson, 35, is serving a year of probation following an altercation with his now ex-wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada. Johnson, who was known as Chad Ochocinco during his brief and unsuccessful tenure in New England, allegedly head-butted Lozada during an argument last August, one month after they were married. Lozada filed for divorce shortly thereafter.
Johnson was released by the Dolphins after the incident and has not played since.
|Brandon Lloyd says Josh McDaniels ‘is my bridge’ to Tom Brady||01.10.13 at 5:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When Brandon Lloyd signed in New England, he admitted Thursday, it was all about making the playoffs.
He entered the NFL in 2003. He’s played with the 49ers, Redskins, Bears, Broncos and Rams. But this season, his first with the Patriots, he’ll finally be getting a taste of the NFL playoff when he takes the field on Sunday.
Lloyd had 74 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns, far more production from this No. 85 than its predecessor in 2011. Still, Lloyd heard all season about getting comfortable with Brady. Now that the regular season’s over, what has it been like?
“It’s a work in progress,” Lloyd said.
The question was repeated. Still a work in progress?
“Yes,” Lloyd said.
This is the third year in a row where he’s caught at least 70 passes. Has it been a different process than in the past or relatively the same?
“It’s been different than the past just because of the organization,” Lloyd explained. “It’s been different than the past because of Tom and his style of preparation, but it’s been similar in the sense that we have to put the work in during the week in all the weeks and during the camps, and then we’ll go into the game and that’s where we’ll really find out about one another. That’s what makes it similar.
“In playing with the less experienced quarterbacks like in St. Louis playing with [Kellen Clemens], it would be different. When he was thrown into the staring lineup, it was more of a situation where I was like, ‘Where do you want me to be? I’m not going to tell you where I’m going to be; you tell me where you want me to be and then I’ll do my best to get there.’ With Tom, we have a little bit of give and take. Some plays, I have that freedom and there are some plays where I can say, ‘Hey, I want to be here’ and then he’ll work it out. Other plays, he’ll say, ‘You need to be here and that’s the way the plays go. It’s similar and it’s different, but it’s equally rewarding.”
But, as Lloyd himself pointed out, the most important factor this year may have been Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator he’s worked with the last three seasons. How much has that relationship with helped bridge the relationship with Brady?
“I think the bridge with Tom is Josh because Josh gives me credibility,” Lloyd said. “Being with Josh the last three seasons, that’s what gave me the credibility to come here and be accepted as a productive member of this team.”
Here is the remainder of Lloyd’s transcript from Thursday’s press conference:
Read the rest of this entry »
|Brandon Lloyd: ‘We’ll see’ how comfortable new receiver is in Patriots offense||09.05.12 at 5:01 pm ET|
He played in just two games, collecting just one catch for 12 yards. Chad Ochocinco had more in his 2011 preseason with Brady. In fact, Ocho caught three catches in three preseason games, including an eight-yard TD grab at Tampa Bay, the site of Lloyd’s only catch this preseason. Lloyd caught a pass over the deep middle against the Saints on Aug. 9 but a Patriots penalty nullified it.
But in Lloyd’s defense, he was held out of two games it was fairly apparent the Patriots weren’t showing much of their offensive playbook in the two games he did play.
The big question: How comfortable will Lloyd and Brady feel once the bullets – and linebackers – start flying around for real starting Sunday in Tennessee?
‘We’ll see,” Lloyd said. “We’ll get our first test against the Titans but for right now, it’s exciting having so many players on the team who can make plays and have had so much success in the NFL.’
As for his own expectations this season in New England.
‘We’ll see. I don’t have any expectations or predictions,” he added. “We’re going to prepare and then go into the game and do our best to execute.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Countdown to Patriots Camp: Wide receiver||07.24.12 at 8:46 pm ET|
In the days leading up to the start of Patriots training camp, we’ll take a quick look at how each position shakes out. We’ve looked at quarterback, tight end and running back. Now, it’s the wide receivers:
Roster (2011 stats): Brandon Lloyd (70 catches, 966 yards, five touchdowns with Denver and St. Louis), Wes Welker (122 catches, 1,569 yards, nine touchdowns), Deion Branch (51 catches, 702 yards, five touchdowns), Jabar Gaffney (68 catches, 947 yards, five touchdowns with Washington), Donte Stallworth (22 catches, 309 yards, two touchdowns with Washington), Julian Edelman (four catches, 34 yards), Matthew Slater (one catch, 46 yards), Jeremy Ebert, Britt Davis, Jesse Holley (seven catches, 169 yards for Dallas).
THREE THINGS WE KNOW
Brandon Lloyd has the most unique skill set of any wide receiver that Tom Brady has ever worked with. We covered this back in the spring, but it bears repeating — Lloyd’s ability to work on both intermediate and deep routes, as well as his ability to compete for jump balls, make him a completely different receiver than anyone Brady has worked with. After getting the chance to throw to Lloyd on a regular basis in the spring, Brady bottom-lined it: ‘We haven’t had anyone quite like him,’ the quarterback said of Lloyd, who followed former offensive coordinator and head coach Josh McDaniels back to New England. (For more on their relationship and Lloyd’s potential impact, click HERE.)
Deion Branch doesn’t have the wheels that he used to, but his smarts, knowledge of the system and great working relationship with the quarterback should be enough to keep him in Foxboro for another year. The 33-year-old, who probably played more than he should have last season because of Chad Ochocinco‘s inadequacies, will still have a role in this passing game. And while shouldn’t have the same sort of production he had last year, there will be at least three occasions in 2012 where he comes up with a big play based solely on his background with Brady.
The acclimation process between Tom Brady and the new receivers should be a little easier than it was for No. 85 last season. You figure that with Gaffney and Stallworth already having spent time in the New England offense, the getting-to-know-you timetable should be minimal. As for Lloyd, he was asked this spring if he believes the Patriots system would be a difficult one to pick up. He responded with a quick, one-word answer: ‘No.’ OK then.
Can Wes Welker ignore the noise? No Patriots’ player has had a more eventful six-month stretch than Welker. He had 122 catches last year, but ended the 2011 season glassy-eyed and teary after failing to come up with a Brady pass that would have likely closed out the Giants in the Super Bowl. Since that game, he’s been hit with the franchise tag, signed his tender, gone back and forth with the franchise about his contract, gotten married, endorsed adult diapers and revealed the most remarkable story involving Larry Izzo you will ever hear. He starts the 2012 season under the microscope — without a long-term deal, there will be speculation that he’s starting his final year in New England. However, Welker’s track record indicates that he should be able to block out the distractions and focus on the task at hand. Provided he stays healthy, look for another 100-plus catch season from the slot machine.
How many wide receivers can one team carry? Right now, it looks like six or seven, depending on what they want to do with Donte Stallworth: Lloyd, Welker, Gaffney, Edelman, Slater and Branch, with Ebert, Davis and Holley all practice squad possibilities. To his credit, Stallworth spent time this spring working as a returner on special teams, ostensibly to try and increase his overall value to the team. But right now, he would appear to face an uphill battle in a fight for a roster spot.
Why has this team had trouble developing young wide receivers? It’s more of a big picture question (perhaps best answered another day), but when you’re talking about wide receivers, it’s worth mentioning once again that the Patriots haven’t been able to develop a young wide receiver since the Deion Branch/David Givens combo nearly 10 years ago. Since then, they’ve relied on imports like Welker, Moss, Gaffney and Lloyd … and Ochocinco, Galloway and Donald Hayes. The veterans have been good enough to keep the passing game humming — and maybe the Patriots have found something with their younger receivers Ebert, Davis and Holley — but for a team that’s enjoyed so much success in player development in so many other areas (they turn JAGs into starting offensive linemen on an annual basis), it’s an odd anomaly.
By the numbers, courtesy of Nuggetpalooza: Wes Welker’s passes dropped (including postseason): 2008 — 3; 2009 — 13; 2010 — 14; 2011 — 15.
The skinny: As we discussed earlier, while the passing game might not reach 2007 levels, they might not be far off. And while the tight ends have emerged as a potent force for Brady, the receiving corps is deep, smart and filled with the sort of veterans you can build an offense around. (‘This group that I’m working with, they’re as professional and as good a group as I’ve ever been around,’ Patriots wide receiver coach Chad O’Shea said this spring.) Lloyd appears poised for a monster year, while there’s no reason to think Welker won’t have a typical Welkeresque season. Gaffney is as underrated as they come, and Branch remains a steady and reliable presence for Brady. They may be getting a little older, but there’s no reason to think that this group of receivers won’t be one of the best in the league statistically when the season is done.
|Asked about Chad Ochocinco, Patriots WR coach Chad O’Shea says current WRs are as ‘good a group as I’ve ever been around’||06.13.12 at 4:54 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea was Wednesday asked about the team’s decision to cut ties with Chad Ochocinco last week, and instead preferred to look forward instead of back.
“I’d rather just talk about the guys we have in here, the guys I’m working with, because this group that I’m working with, they’re as professional and as good a group as I’ve ever been around,” O’Shea said after Wednesday’s minicamp practice at Gillette Stadium. “And they have a tremendous work ethic, and they’re all really competitive and want to win. They’re familiar with the system. So I’m pleased with the guys we have.”
Ochocinco had 15 catches for 276 yards and a touchdown in his one season with the Patriots. He was released last week by New England, but has since been picked up by the Dolphins.
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