William Stephen Belichick has been the head coach of the New England Patriots since the beginning of the Millennium. His first NFL head coaching job actually began with the New York Jets. However, after one day on the job Bill immediately defected to the rival Patriots to take over head coaching responsibilities. This kind of cutthroat mentally has been an evergreen characteristic of Bill since then.
Not only is Bill in charge of all things coach related, he runs the player personnel department as well. He is essentially the Patriots general manager. With this responsibility, it is hard to argue that Bill has made many bad decisions when it comes to players. Often times it is mind boggling when Bill cuts Pro Bowler after Pro Bowler, but it is difficult to argue with the results the Patriots see year after year with Bill at the helm. Since taking over, the Patriots have the best win percentage in the NFL. It's not even close. However, if you're name isn't Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski don't get too comfortable. The following is the list of players that have been axed without blinking an eye by the most cutthroat head coach of all time.
16 Logan Mankins
Logan Mankins is a former first round pick by the New England Patriots. They selected him with the 32nd overall pick of the 2005 draft. Usually when a player is chosen as one of the top 32 players in any given draft that player is expected to contribute and contribute immediately. Mankins did not disappoint. Mankins would start immediately for the Patriots and not miss a game. As a member of the Patriots, Mankins was named to seven Pro Bowls. He was a first-team All Pro for his efforts during the 2010 season. Mankins helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl twice in his tenure. He even scored a touchdown in the AFC Championship game against the Colts. Then, after nine seasons with the Patriots and never missing a game, despite playing with a torn ACL and MCL (yeah that's true), Mankins was traded to the Buccaneers of Tampa Bay for an unproductive tight end and a fourth round draft pick. Thanks for everything Logan! Bye Felicia!
15 Deion Branch
Former Super Bowl MVP, Deion Branch, was drafted by the Patriots in the 2002 NFL Draft. Branch may never have been a polarizing receiver for New England, but he was an essential part to the Patriots success of the early Millennium. Branch was one of the guys Brady could always count on in "must have" situations. You need a first down? Throw to Deion. You need a shot of energy into the offense? Throw to Deion. You need to deliver the final blow in a close game? You see my point. In the Super Bowl against the Eagles, Branch tied the record for receptions with 11. He only missed one pass on his 12 targets. He added 133 yards and was named the MVP of the Super Bowl. He was the first receiver to receive this honor since 1989. Then, after the 2005 season the Patriots and Deion got into a little bit of contract dispute. And we all know how Bill Belichik handles contract disputes. Deion was traded to the Seahawks for a first round pick.
14 Mike Vrabel
Mike Vrabel was a quintessential Bill Belichik type of a player. He played with intensity for 60 minutes. He made plays when the team needed him. He was extremely versatile, going as far as lining up as a tight end on various occasions. Vrabel spent the first four years of his career as an underachieving linebacker for the Pittsburg Steelers. After his rookie contract was up, Vrable signed with Patriots and remained in New England for 8 glorious years. While a member of the Patriots, Vrabel tallied 57 sacks, over 500 tackles, and 19 forced fumbles (that's playmaking right there). Vrabel was named to the Pro Bowl for his efforts during the 2007 season. He helped the Pats to two Super Bowl wins. He was THE leader on the great Patriot's defense. Then, following the 2008 season (which is the last time the Patriots did not win the division) Vrabel was sent with Matt Cassel to the Chiefs for a second round draft pick. Sorry Mike, we're going in a different direction.
13 Chandler Jones
The next player on our Patriots carousel is the pass rushing specialist, Chandler Jones. Jones was selected by the Patriots with the 21st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He was one of the highest graded pass rushers in that years draft. Jones was part of the Patriots Super Bowl win against the Seahawks in 2014. He earned a Pro Bowl spot for his skills during the 2015 season. During that season, Jones amassed 12.5 quarterback sacks. Jones was/is definitely considered one of the most promising young pass rushers in the league. Unfortunately for Jones, he works under the regime of one Bill Belichik, and Jones was coming to the end of his rookie contract with the Pats. So you might ask yourself, what happens when the Patriots are due to pay a player somewhere in the ballpark of $10 million per year? Bye! Jones was traded to the Cardinals for guard, Jonathan Cooper and a second round pick. Like most players let go from the Patriots, Jones is off to a mediocre start with his new team. After eight games, Jones has tallied five sacks.
11 Darrelle Revis
We all know about Darrelle Revis. Darrelle Revis is great. Darrelle Revis started his career with the New York Jets. He was taken 14th overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Darrelle is one of few defensive backs who can lock down an entire side of the field. Throwing against Darrelle was almost a sin. He was the best player on a Jets team that reached the AFC Championship game in consecutive years. Not surprisingly, Darrelle would get real expensive to employ. He became a free agent and signed with the Buccaneers for $16 million a season. Naturally, the Bucs being a poor team, Darrelle was not happy. Sad player plus $16 million per year equals trade to Patriots. The Patriots convinced Darrelle to take $12 million per year. It was probably more of a shake down than a convincing though. Darrelle would have a tremendous season with the Pats helping them win the Super Bowl against the Seahawks. Then, Darrelle wanted the money that was due to him so the Patriots let him go. Thanks for everything. Darrelle would return to the Jets where he remains to this day.
10 Willie McGinest
Willie McGinest was drafted by the New England Patriots with the fourth overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft. Willie was the backbone on a very solid Patriots defense. He is the all time leader in sacks for playoff games. Many would argue that statistic is the most telling statistic for the greatness of a player. Willie played for the Patriots for 12 seasons. Only five of those season were helmed by Belichik though. There is only one player that can say he has played for Belichik for over 12 seasons. That honor belongs to one Thomas Brady. If your name is Willie McGinest you should be happy with five years under the modern day Napoleon Bonaparte. After the 2005 season Willie was 34 years old and due to make over $7 million per season. Guess what. Willie was sent away. Willie became a free agent and signed with the Browns. He must have known is career would soon be over, because Cleveland is where players go to die. Name a player who played for Cleveland over the last 15 years and came out alive.
9 Drew Bledsoe
Drew McQueen Bledsoe was born In February of 1972. He was drafted by the Patriots in 1993. He is part of the elite quarterback club that has eclipsed 40,000 passing yards. Interestingly, Bledsoe never threw for 30 touchdowns in a single season. His glory days were in the '90s. Teams used to run the ball way more. As the leader of the Patriots offense Bledsoe was selected to three Pro Bowls. In 1996 he took the Pats to the Super Bowl where they would lose to Brett Favre's Packers. In the 2000 NFL Draft the New England Patriots selected Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. Most people call him Tom Brady. Bledsoe's fate was sealed that day. He would go on as the starter for the Patriots for the next season going 5-11. The next year he suffered an injury opening the door for Brady. The door would stay open as Tom took the Patriots to the Super Bowl against the Rams and won. The next season Bledsoe would head north for Buffalo.
8 Ty Law
Ty Law is another first round pick taken by the New England Patriots. He is the first Patriot to ever lead the league in interceptions when he snagged nine during the 1998 season. While a member of the Patriots Law earned five Pro Bowl selections. He was named as an All Pro twice. He was a Super Bowl MVP and named to the All Decade Team of the 2000s. Ty Law's style of play was so dominate and physical that it aided in the league changing the rules to better protect players. Law won three Super Bowls with the Patriots. These kinds of accolades typically end up costing a team a hefty dollar if they wish to continue employing said player. After the 2004 season Law was set to make over $12 million per season if the Patriots wanted to keep him. Law was released from the Patriots. He signed with Jets. His first year there he enjoyed a career year with 10 interceptions. This is one of the rare occasions where a player leaves the Patriots to find success elsewhere. Good on you, Ty.
7 Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He enjoyed moderate success during his four year tenure with the Bucs, but the team's lack of wins led to Talib becoming a free agent and signing with the always good New England Patriots. He signed a one year deal with them. He ended up struggling with injuries and only played in six games. The following year the Patriots would release him and then sign him again. They agreed to a $5 million dollar one year deal. I guess when you are good you never have to sign players to long term deals. Talib would grab 4 four interceptions that season helping the Patriots to a 12-4 record and the AFC Championship game. The Pats would go on to lose to the Broncos in that game. Next year Talib wanted to stay with the Pats, but Belichik ain't got no time for big contracts. Talib would sign with the Broncos on a six year $57 million dollar deal. No one gets those deals in New England except Thing 1 and Thing 2.
6 Adam Vinatieri
Adam Vinatieri became a hero in February of 2001. The Patriots were playing the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. The Rams of that era were known as "the greatest show on turf." Helmed by Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, and Marshal Faulk, their offense was truly magnificent. But none of that mattered when the Patriots got the ball back with one and half minutes on the clock in the fourth quarter with a score of 17-17. All former announcer, John Madden, keeps saying is "I would just run out the clock and go to overtime." "I wouldn't do this." It's a good thing for the Patriots they couldn't hear Madden's advice. The Patriots marched down the field. On the sideline, a young Adam Vinatieri kept his leg nice and warm kicking into the net. Three weeks earlier the Patriots stole the AFC Division game from the Raiders when Vinatieri iced the game from 20 yards as the clock expired. With the Super Bowl on the line, Tom Brady spiked the ball with seven seconds remaining. Vinatieri entered the game and drilled a 48 yard field to win the game. Four years later the Patriots had enough of his heroics. Bye! Adam Vinatieri was released. He then signed with Indianapolis Colts.
5 Randy Moss
Randy Moss has the NFL record for most receiving touchdowns in a single season with 23. He has the second most receiving touchdowns all time with 156. He trails only Jerry Rice. Moss started his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings where he broke all sorts of records and helped the Viking become relevant. After seven seasons with the Vikings, Moss signed with the Oakland Raiders. That didn't go so well. Randy pouted his way out of Oakland until he was eventually traded, in a blockbuster deal, to the Patriots. During his first season with the Patriots he his was part of the best offense to ever play on an NFL turf. That year Brady broke the record for most touchdown passes in a year and Moss for most receiving touchdowns in a year. The Patriots would go undefeated all the way to the Super Bowl. They lost that game when a ball was caught on some dude's helmet. In the coming years, Moss would have continued success with Patriots. Then, as was customary for Moss, he started getting pouty. He wanted a long term deal with the Patriots. Problem is, Billy don't really like to get shaken down. After four games into the 2010 season Moss was traded to Vikings. From there Moss would begin his rapid descent to irrelevance.
4 Jamie Collins
This past week Belichik and the Patriots did what Belichik and the Patriots do. Their star middle linebacker, Jamie Collins, was traded to the Browns of Cleveland for a third round draft pick. This is actually pretty ridiculous. At this point in the season, teams have already played seven or eight games. The Patriots are 7-1 and the Browns are 0-7. Following this season, Collins' rookie contract is going to expire, and he will be looking for his first big pay day as a star NFL player. The Patriots apparently had a number in mind, but Collins wanted more. No one learns. You can't shake down Bill Belichik. The Patriots sent Collins from the best team in the league to the actual worst team in the league. How do you think Collins' performance is going to fare when he is surrounded by considerably less skilled guys in Cleveland. Why in the world would the Browns give a third round pick when they are 0-7 for a guy that is under no obligation to sign with them when the season is up. They literally are throwing away a premiere draft pick. "Sorry Jamie Collins. It was fun while it lasted. Thanks for the Pro Bowls, but bye."
3 Richard Seymour
Seymour was drafted sixth overall in the 2001 NFL Draft. He was an absolute beast from the get go. He's the kind of defensive lineman that often required double teams to be stopped. This of course freed up other guys on the Patriot's defensive front. Seymour's accolades as a part of the Patriot's awesome defense were insane. He was named first team All Pro three times. He got voted to the Pro Bowl five times. He won three Super Bowls with the Pats and was named as a member of the All Decade Team. Then, after what was arguably his best season ever, the Patriots sent him to Oakland for a first round draft pick. We appreciate your efforts with the organization, but we will now be sending you to one of the worst teams in the league. Thanks! Seymour was 30 when they traded him. Seymour was a former first round pick and the Patriots traded him for a first round pick. Jeeze! Seriously Oakland?
2 Wes Welker
Wes Welker was signed as an un-drafted free agent in 2004 by the Chargers. He would end up getting cut by the Chargers that season and he signed with the Dolphins. The Dolphins had a great player with Wes, but they were unable to utilize his skills. After the 2006 season, Dolphins coach Cam Cameron (the worst head coach of all time) traded Wes to the Patriots. The Dolphins would go 1-15 that season. The Patriots would go 18-1. They lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. Wes had a career high year catching for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns. He would make his first of five Pro Bowls that year. Wes would go on to break Patriot records in receiving yards and catches as Tom Brady's favorite target over the next five years. He will go down as one of the best slot receivers to ever play the game. Then, as things tend to do, relations between Welker and Belichick got a little chippy. Wes should have been paid top receiver dollar. The Patriots didn't think so. Wes would be let go and signed with the Broncos. Wes would enjoy some success with Broncos. While he was healthy, Wes was Peyton Manning's favorite target catching 10 touchdowns in his first year with them.
1 Lawyer Milloy
Lawyer Milloy might be a little bit of a lesser-known player on this list, but he was one of the best players Belichik let go. Milloy was one of the most feared safeties in football. He was the kind of guy that made receivers never want to run across the middle of the field. The guy was tough too. As a Patriot Milloy never missed a game. That is almost unheard of in today's NFL. Milloy's stats with the Patriots are not eye popping, but that is only because teams avoided him at all costs. Milloy earned three Pro Bowl nods while a Patriot. He was part of the Patriot's Super Bowl win against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Then, five days before the 2003 season, Belichik would release the captain of the Patriot's defense. Everyone on their team was in shock. He was the heart of the team. Milloy would sign with AFC East divisional foe, the Buffalo Bills. Guess who the Patriots played in the opening game of the season that year. Yeah, it was the Bills. You think Milloy was pissed? The Bills delivered the Patriots their worst opening season loss ever when they crushed them 31-0. Milloy was all over the field reeking havoc. Sorry Felicia.