Being a great franchise starts with the owner and Robert Kraft is one of the best owners in all of sports. Of course, you also need people capable of making great personnel decisions and Bill Belichick, Ernie Adams, and Nick Caserio fit this bill perfectly. What other team do you see turn players that other teams do not want into great players like the New England Patriots, or even take players that are "done" and revive their careers?
One of the main factors that helps New England make great roster moves is that they take advantage of a players' strengths and hide the players' weaknesses. Secondly, they know when it is time to move on from a player and thus, are not afraid to cut ties, no matter what the public reaction will be. It may sound simple, but many teams do not follow these rules and this is really what helps the Patriots make such great personnel moves, as you will see in this article.
However, it would be unwise to classify every move New England has made during the Belichick era as a good move. New England has made some head-scratching decisions that often go unnoticed due to the success they have every year.
However, I can argue that some of these moves have put the Patriots from clear cut Super Bowl favorites to just "one of the teams that could win." Some may argue this is an over-exaggeration, but I genuinely believe the Patriots could have more than four Super Bowl titles if these poor decisions were not made. In fact, we may even see some of these roster decisions impact the Patriots' chances this season.
Just to be clear, these moves will refer to personnel moves and not in-game decisions such as the infamous 4th and 2 call against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts a few years ago.
16 Worst - Signing Reggie Wayne
There is no denying the career of the great Reggie Wayne. He will be in the Hall of Fame and he is a Super Bowl champion. However, when Bill Belichick decided to sign Wayne, it was not his best move as a general manager. It was clear that the days of Wayne being a legitimate receiver were over, as evident in his decline in his final season with the Colts. To make matters worse for the Patriots, Wayne did not even make it to the regular season as he asked the team for his release after the pre-season finale (rumors were that he could not handle the "tough" environment of the Patriots).
15 Best - Drafting Julian Edelman
Drafting Julian Edelman was a classic Belichick move. Belichick did not even know what position Edelman would play for the Patriots, but he knew one thing: Edelman had a chip on his shoulder and was extremely motivated since no one else wanted him. Edelman was drafted to the perfect situation and he got to learn under a great player with similar skills in Wes Welker.
14 Worst - Trading Jamie Collins
Some may argue it is way too early to put the trade of Jamie Collins as one of Belichick's worst moves, but you must consider two factors when it comes to this trade: timing and return. The timing of this trade was shocking. If the Patriots knew they were not going to keep Collins after his contract expired, they could have shipped him out of town in the offseason, much like what they did with Chandler Jones. In addition, the return they received for an outstanding linebacker was relatively small. Surely, the Pats could have done better than a third-round pick for a player for which opposing coaches have to specifically game-plan.
13 Best - Trading away Richard Seymour
Although trading Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round pick was shocking to many, it turned out pretty well for the Patriots. The Patriots used the draft pick to select Nate Solder, a mainstay tackle ever since he has been drafted. Meanwhile, Seymour continued to be a good player, but never had the same team success again.
12 Worst - Drafting Laurence Maroney in the first round
Laurence Maroney did show glimpses of why the Patriots took a chance on him in the first round. He averaged over four yards per carry in his first two seasons and did just enough to make other teams respect the Patriots run game. However, in the end, Maroney failed to live up to first-round expectations. Maroney became wildly inconsistent after his first two seasons and used to drive Patriots fans crazy by dancing around the line of scrimmage instead of running towards the hole and attacking the defense.
11 Best - Signing Rodney Harrison
Many Pats fans' last memory of Rodney Harrison relates to the David Tyree catch, but ultimately, Harrison was an outstanding safety for the Patriots. Signing him also provided insurance for when the Patriots eventually cut ties with Lawyer Milloy. With Harrison, the Pats' defense continued to be dominant and he helped the team win two more Super Bowls. Harrison was very good in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, recording over 100 combined tackles in both years. Remember, this tackle total is from a defensive back. Additionally, he was named to the All Pro team in 2004.
10 Worst - Drafting Chad Jackson
Not only was Chad Jackson a bad draft choice by the Patriots, but to make matters worse, they traded away assets to move up in the draft to select him. In exchange for the 36th selection in the second round of the 2006 draft, the Pats traded their second- and third-round picks.
9 Best - Trading for Wes Welker
It must feel great for a general manager to rip off a team within their own division. This was the case when the Patriots traded a second and seventh round pick for Wes Welker. To make matters even better, the Patriots got him on a very team friendly contract by agreeing to a five-year extension with Welker. Welker went on to have a very solid career in New England, almost automatically recording 100 receptions a season, assuming good health, of course. He had great chemistry with Tom Brady and was Brady's favorite receiver for years.
8 Worst - Drafting Dominique Easley in the first Round
Here was another poor first-round selection by the Patriots. Many people were shocked when the Patriots decided to take the injury-prone Easley in the first round. Most experts had him going in the sixth or seventh round, but Belichick obviously saw something he liked and made the selection. To be fair, Easley did show glimpses of first-round talent. At times, he was the Patriots' best pass rusher from the interior and even could line up on the edge to get pressure on the quarterback.
7 Best - Trading for Corey Dillon
A classic Belichick move -- find players that most people think are "done" and revive their careers. After an off year with the Bengals where he was unable to rush for over 600 yards, Corey Dillon was shipped off to the Patriots for a second-round pick. Most people thought this was a silly move by Belichick, as Dillon's time as an elite running back was supposed to be over.
6 Worst - Signing Adalius Thomas
I am in no way saying Adalius Thomas was a bad player, or had a bad career. He was even outstanding for the Patriots in his first season with the team. However, after that first season, there is not too many good things to say about the time Thomas spent in New England. He ended up becoming a problem in the locker room after Belichick converted him to a part-time player. Matters were only made worse when Thomas was banned from the facility for a day after showing up to a practice late.
5 Best - Trading for Randy Moss
The Patriots trading for Randy Moss still might be one of the best trades of all time. Not only was it a great trade because Moss is one of the best receivers of all time, but the Patriots also ripped off the Oakland Raiders at the same time by only surrendering a fourth-round pick.
4 Worst - Trading for Albert Haynesworth
I can understand the thinking of Belichick when trading for Albert Haynesworth. When he was at his best, Haynesworth was a dominant defender and could clog the middle of the field. He also had the potential to be a perfect fit alongside Vince Wilfork. He could also allow the Patriots to lower Wilfork's snap count and keep Wilfork fresh for the playoffs. Finally, this seemed like a good risk because the Patriots had a good track record of working with troubled players and turning their careers around.
3 Best - Drafting Rob Gronkowski in the 2nd Round
This is one of the better risks Belichick has made during his tenure with the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski missed his final college season due to injury and many teams saw him as a medical risk. Clearly, Belichick thought the reward would be greater than the risk and even traded up two spots in the second round to draft Gronk. The rest, as they say, is history.
2 Worst - Trading for Chad Ochocinco
Although I liked the idea of trading for Chad Ochocinco to try and fulfill the role of Randy Moss, it clearly did not work out. Ochocinco could not figure out the playbook during his time in New England. We all know that if you cannot figure out the playbook in New England, Brady will lose his trust in you. It only made matters worse when Ochocinco was tweeting about the "machine" in New England when many Boston-based analysts (eg. Tedy Bruschi) felt Ochocinco should have been more focused on learning the playbook.
1 Best - Drafting Tom Brady in the 6th Round
What has not been said about the Patriots drafting Tom Brady already? The Patriots were the only team in the NFL to give him a chance and their investment has paid off greatly. In New England, not many things are constant in terms of player personnel, but Brady has been the exception to the rule. What makes this move by Belichick even greater is that he decided to carry four quarterbacks on his roster at one point (Brady was the 4th string). This is almost unheard of, but Belichick saw something in Brady and like most of the time, Belichick was right.
Overall, Brady has the most wins all time by any quarterback, he has won MVPs, Super Bowl trophies and now all that's left for him to do is try to get that fifth ring and end any debate on who the greatest quarterback of all time is.
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