The New England Patriots made national headlines recently with several big-name free agent acquisitions. They sent one fifth round pick and one sixth round pick to Cincinnati for receiver Chad OchoCinco who is currently signed to a three year contract. They also sent a 2013 fifth round pick to Washington in exchange for Albert Haynesworth. Both OchoCinco and Haynesworth are Pro-Bowl caliber players. They were acquired for much less than their worth, and are considered low-risk, high-reward acquisitions. However, the main reason why their former teams were willing to part with them for less than market value is their attitudes. OchoCinco has a reputation of being a prima-donna who puts himself before the team. Haynesworth is considered by many to be lazy and a problem in the locker room. There is no denying the upside that these players bring, but their attitudes have gotten in the way of their success before and it may happen again. Their third acquisition Shaun Ellis is a former New York Jet, who is looking for a change of scenery. That being said, here is how I feel about both moves:
Player Acquired: Chad OchoCinco
Grade For Pats: B-
I can’t jump on the OchoCinco bandwagon just yet. Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, and his offense will put up points no matter who you put out on the field with him. The Patriots have weapons, and lots of them at their disposal. The receiving core is already solid with Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, and Wes Welker. They have two young phenomenal tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski is an unstoppable force in the red-zone. He is 6’7″ and he can rise up and catch just about anything Brady throws his way. Hernandez has the skill set of a wide receiver, and the size of a tight end and is a consistent playmaker. Although wide receiver is not a need for the Pats, OchoCinco brings upside and depth to their offense for a relatively low cost. This was a solid move, but ultimately an unremarkable one. The Patriots will make a deep playoff run next year with or without OchoCinco
Player Acquire: Albert Haynesworth
Grade for Pats: B+
I am thoroughly excited to see Albert Haynesworth as a Patriot. Maybe I am biased, seeing as I am an aspiring young lineman. However the potential for Albert Haynesworth is undeniable. Haynesworth and OchoCinco bring a similar level of upside to the Patriots. The difference is that Haynesworth fits a dire need for the Patriots, while OchoCinco merely adds depth to an already strong receiving core. The Pats needed to improve their pass rush desperately, and they acquired an all-pro caliber pass rusher in Haynesworth. The main reason why the Patriots lost to the Jets in last years playoffs was that they could not rush Mark Sanchez. They allowed him to step confidently into his throws, which exposed their mediocre secondary. During their three super bowl victories the Patriots had a dominating defense that could shut down even the most efficient of offenses. One of the keys to that defense was to create pressure with great rushers such as Seymour, Vrabel, and McGinest. Haynesworth will bring the pressure that the Patriots lacked last year. Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork will be a duo that no offense in football will want anything to do with in February. This move could ultimately make or break the Pats, who will go as far as their defense will take them. Haynesworth is a game-changing player when motivated, which is why I am not giving this move an A. It gets a B+ because it is a great move, yet Haynesworth’s work ethic is still a question mark. It is still a B+ move because Belichick, Brady, and Co manage year after year to extract the best results out of everyone who steps foot into their locker room.
Players Acquisition: Shaun Ellis
Grade for Pats: B+
The Patriots bolstered their defensive pass rush by Acquiring Shaun Ellis. Like Haynesworth he is a productive player who fits a major need for the Patriots. Ellis also happens to be a former Jet who spent eleven years with that organization. He knows everything there is to know about the Jets, and can help game plan against them during the season. He is also a big loss for the Jets, which makes this move much more impressive. He fits the Patriots spending pattern so far this offseason: Low-risk, high-reward. As and added bonus he is leaving our biggest rival, so we managed to improve our team and take away from the Jets at the same time. This is my favorite of the three moves.