The New England Patriots are intent on winning a Super Bowl. Since 2005, they’ve been 0-for-6. All the water cooler talk through the mind-blowing 2007 regular season was how the Patriots – on the cusp of their fourth title – were good for the sport because the dynasty gave everyone a formidable villain and a standard to reach for. They, of course, didn’t win it and the older players like Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Roosevelt Colvin, Adalius Thomas and Richard Seymour retired or were moved as a young defense was cultivated for the 2010 season (and promptly finished last in 3rd down percentage).
A large contingent of analysts thought that a long lockout would make teams shy away from free agents and swapping for guys, due to their lack of time in the playbook. For at least the Patriots, the opposite has happened. In addition to trading for Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, they’ve flown in an assembly line of veteran free agents. Some left without a contract – Channing Crowder, Tommie Harris -, others received deals.
Three more are coming in for tryouts, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Ian Rapoport, Boston Herald), FS Darren Sharper, and S Renaldo Hill (Sports XChange). Houshmandzadeh – and the wideout position in general – was an afterthought and belabored by stodgy duties in Cam Cameron’s Ravens offense. Sharper is 3rd in NFL history with 1412 interception return yards, including taking one back 38 yards on Brady in the 2009 season.
Houshmandzadeh, you would believe, is a longshot to make a team that seems to go six deep at wideout. Sharper may be considered invaluable safety depth as last year Chung was benched, then put back in. He was a key part of the Super Bowl XLIV Champ Saints.
Whatever the case, I love bringing in guys who’ve been good enough to start 4-15 years in the league. You want your team to be making every attempt to get better.