It’s blogs like these where I am very, very grateful that I am a fan of a team coached by Bill Belichick, because I don’t have to seriously doubt anything he does, even if the moves don’t make perfect sense to me. There are no incredibly dumb moves with BB. There’s no instance of hitting Brandon Workman in the 9th inning of a tied World Series game or playing Gregory Campbell 15 minutes when he can’t skate anymore. Every move Belichick makes, even with the ones that don’t work out like the Adalius Thomas signing or trading up for Chad Jackson, has logic behind it. Even when he inexplicably doesn’t call a timeout in the final minute of the Super Bowl to give the greatest QB ever a chance to tie the game, it turns out that he was playing chess while the rest of us were playing checkers.
And that all comforts me during an offseason like this one, or at least during parts of it. I’m not talking about letting Darrelle Revis go, because a team with no players and a ton of cap space (Jets) could simply pay way more than a team with a lot of players and a little cap space (Patriots), so that’s why he’s gone. No debate there, too bad Revis wouldn’t take a discount for the 2nd year in a row, whatever. But there are other moves in the secondary especially that make me question what Belichick has done. Not doubt. I’d never doubt what that man does with my favorite football team. But I do have some questions.
First, cutting Brandon Browner only a year after signing his contract seemed strange to me. It’s important to note that there’s no dead money now, which is key, but Browner signed a 3 year $16.8 million deal last year, and he would be making $5.5 mil on the cap this season. Belichick declined a $2M roster bonus before free agency, making him a free agent.
In a year when you lose Revis and every other corner left on the roster doesn’t have great size (to put it lightly), why cut the one guy who has size and can cover someone like Chris Matthews in the Super Bowl. Now, if the Pats’ cornerbacks are outmatched physically like they were in the desert in February, there’s no answer in the form of a much bigger DB.
And compounding the Browner move, Belichick cut Kyle Arrington, which wouldn’t have confused me at all save for the Browner move that he had already made. Part of the rationale for releasing Browner may be that the Pats are moving away from more man coverage and more into zone and nickel coverages. Makes sense, and it would explain cutting Browner for that reason. But then why cut the one guy on the roster who’s specifically a nickel corner?
I would not call myself a Kyle Arrington fan by any means, but as a nickel only, I like him. Any time he’s either on the outside of the opposing offense can force him to cover on the outside either before the snap or running wheel/deep routes, he’s done, as evidenced by Chris Matthews going HAM on him in the Super Bowl. But why not keep him as a nickel for another year?
Specifically, keeping Arrington for another year would make a lot more sense, in my opinion. Belichick only saved $1.375 million on the 2015 cap by cutting Arrington this summer, while he would have saved $3.5 million on the 2016 cap by cutting him next year. Combined with Browner move, I’m surprised that Belichick would cut Arrington, given that he could help with the defenses that the Pats are probably gonna use more often this year.
And last question, although this one is much lighter since we know even fewer details than with the Arrington or Browner situations, why let Dan Connolly just walk away and retire? Connolly was looking for a contract to keep playing, but the 33 year old decided to retire when he couldn’t get a deal from anyone, including the Pats. Maybe BB was willing to give him a minimum deal but Connolly wouldn’t come back for anything that low, but I’m just surprised we didn’t hear more about at least some effort on Belichick’s part to keep him, given that Connolly was a solid part of an offensive line that struggled mightily at times last year but was very good when it was solidified.
All in all though, these moves don’t really worry me, because our team’s coach is Bill Belichick. He knows how to coach each and every position and system in a time where most coaches are centered on only a few coaching skills, and he’s an accounting genius when it comes to the salary cap and the financial value of his players. So I’m not doubting him, only questioning moves that don’t make sense to me but probably make perfect sense to him. The only time I’ve doubted him in the past year was not calling a timeout before Malcolm Butler’s interception, and I learned my lesson.