Something has been annoying me for a while now, not just this offseason but last year, etc, that I’ve refrained from commenting on. One of the most common things I seem to hear all over, no matter where it is, is that if we release someone, New England will pick them up and turn them into a star. We can’t let a division rival get them or we’ll regret it.
It’s an irrational fear used to justify why a player must stay, why we can’t risk waiving a bubble player who shows promise even if we desire to place them on the practice squad. Preseason heroes who are down on the depth chart can’t go or Tom Brady and Belichick will get them.
I understand why this all started, Wes Welker. We let Welker go to NE and it bit us hard. He turned into a household name and killed us game after game. Here’s the thing though, Welker was good enough to start for us. He contributed to our team on a regular basis, even if his numbers weren’t great. He wasn’t some unknown cast off that suddenly became special in New England. He just had the benefit of going to a team with a real QB that took advantage of his quickness. Take away Welker, and who else has NE taken and made into a star?
In recent memories, they signed Donald Thomas, a former draft pick of ours. He’s started some games for them due to injuries. He also earned a starting spot for us his rookie season before injuries derailed him. They signed Sammy Morris who gave them a little production. Again, he started a number of games for us thanks to Ricky’s early retirement. After that, he was expendable for he wasn’t better than Ronnie or Ricky. They signed Will Allen, a starter for us, who never even got to play for them due to injury. They signed Polite, a starter for us, who only lasted a year with them. None of them have been difference makers or a thorn in our side. I know there are some other guys they’ve picked up that I’m forgetting but you get the idea.
The truth is, yes, they sign a good number of players that we release, mostly to get whatever edge they can on us and because they see them more than they will a player released from say an NFC team. Teams do that all the time. But they aren’t bringing in all of our trash and transforming them into pro-bowlers. Our 8th WR isn’t going to go to NE and suddenly become a #1. Sometimes we have to accept the fact that just because we like someone, or they’ve looked good in preseason or training camp, they simply aren’t that good. The league is full of average players and backups, and even more full of guys who will never have a job in the league.
The only way NE should be effecting our roster and who we keep, is that we should be building it to take them out and reclaim the division.