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Zach Thomas almost joined the New England Patriots, Dolphins fans changed his mind

The 2023 Pro Football Hall of Famer shared a cool story this week.

NFL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Thomas saw his time with the Miami Dolphins come to a close as a free agent in 2008. Thomas, a 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame class member, signed with the Dallas Cowboys at the time.

He played in 16 games for Dallas at right inside linebacker before calling it a career. That said, Thomas recently discussed the opportunity for a different career path - one that would’ve felt eerily similar to Jason Taylor joining the New York Jets in 2010.

Earlier this week, Thomas was on WQAM’s Hochman & Crowder and revealed that he met with Bill Belichick and almost became a member of the Patriots in 2008.

“After I got cut by the Dolphins — [Bill] Parcells told me, ‘You’re 35, linebackers decline after 35’ — just the competitive nature, I wanted to shove it in his face,” Thomas said. “So, I said, ‘Where am I going to go in the division?’ I said, ‘I’m not going to the Jets, hell no. I’m not doing that.’ So I go, ‘OK, let’s visit Bill Belichick.’

“So, I go up to Bill Belichick, the genius himself. I want to learn from him, whatever, and they had that stacked defense. So, I’m sitting across him; Bill in the chair. He said, ‘Zach, we’re going to offer you but I can’t give you No. 54.’ I’m like, ‘Tedy Bruschi’s a legend, I don’t want 54, I want 53.’ That’s Larry Izzo’s number, my best friend at the time. That got a good little smirk out of him.”

Thomas, a former fifth-round draft pick that earned five first-team All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowl appearances, noted that Belichick offered him a contract.

“[Belichick] offered me. And I said, ‘Let me think about it,’” Thomas said. “I slept on it and woke up the next morning and said, ‘Hell no, man. I can’t let down the fans because they got my back.’ That was one of those things — I’m getting choked up right now — that come back. They’ve always been good to me, so I thought it was the right move so I went to Dallas. It worked out.”

Thomas started 14 games for the Cowboys, knocking down three passes and getting to the quarterback for a sack. The former Texas Tech linebacker retired after one year in Dallas.

While fans of the Dolphins would warmly welcome Thomas back no matter his decision — he thought too highly of the fanbase and didn’t want them to see one of the franchise’s top linebackers with Patriot Pat on his helmet.