The New England Patriots have released many “pro bowl” fan favorites before, just like they let free agent WR Wes Welker walk away to the Denver Broncos. The Patriots are no stranger to this, and the Patriots use their free money to put together a new puzzle, and make it work. Wes Welker wanted more money, and New England didn’t want to pay him that money, so Welker walked to Denver, and New England signed WR Danny Amendola. Amendola, if can stay healthy, will fit right in the slot position for the Patriots. Letting a fan favorite like Welker walk away isn’t the first time New England has done something like this, it has happen a lot over the years.
Lawyer Milloy was released by the Patriots in 2003 at the age of 29. Milloy was a pro bowler, a fan favorite, and a favorite of his teammates who expressed their shock and sadness, he was also a team captain. Tedy Bruschi said after Milloy release “Has it ever been this quiet in here? I don’t think it has, I think ‘shocked’ is the word. . . . You sort of just shake your head and ask yourself, ‘Why?” Cornerback Ty Law added his two cents “It is scary in the timing, There’s such a thing as good business and bad business. I don’t know what category this one falls under. But to my eyes, and being selfish, at this late in the game and in regard to him and his family, I’m quite sure this is something that could have been done a long time ago.” During the offseason, before releasing Milloy, the Patriots had signed Safety Rodney Harrison to take his place, and as we all know, it worked out quiet well.
Richard Seymour was traded by the New England Patriots in 2009 when Seymour was 30 years old. The Patriots traded Seymour to the Raiders for a first round pick, and Seymour was shocked by the trade. The Patriots came out better with the trade, using their first round pick from the Oakland Raiders to pick Offensive Line Nate Solder. Seymour for the Raiders didn’t work out too well, even though Seymour had success at times with Oakland, he didn’t change the defense or help the Raiders become winners, so the trade simply didn’t live up to giving up a first round pick. Patriot Fans voted if they were happy with the Seymour trade and 77% said yes. Bringing in Solder worked, letting Seymour go worked.
Asante Samuel was a free agent after the Patriots undefeated season in 2007, and in the Super Bowl, Samuel had a game winning interception go right through his hands. Samuel was in store for a very expensive contract, one the Patriots were not going to pay. Samuel was an interception machine, and a great corner, but he wanted his money, rightfully so. Samuel signed with the Eagles for 6 years worth 56 million at the age of 27. In 2012, the Eagles traded Samuel to the Atlanta Falcons. Samuel is still a good corner in the NFL, but certainly not a fan favorite anymore, taking shots at his former team over the years. When Vince Wilfork’s contract was up in New England, Samuel told the Boston Globe ”I don’t think they care about you, in my opinion. They didn’t care about me, so do what’s best for you and your family.” Samuel did the same thing with the Welker situation. Welker, though, weighed in first in 2008, saying Samuels picked money over championships, and back in February Samuel still offered up advice to Welker saying on Fox Sports Radio ” He made the comment when I left, I chased the money and not the championship. So here’s my advice to you, Welker: You better chase the money, brother.” Samuel, now, still seems like the bitter ex girlfriend of the New England Patriots, and yes it was a bad breakup. But since the trade, the Patriots have lacked a good corner, but times might be changing now with Dennard, and maybe Talib. Samuel hasn’t played in a Super Bowl since departing from the Patriots while the Patriots made it back to one in 2011.
Mike Vrabel was traded from the Patriots to the Chiefs for draft picks in 2009. Vrabel was a beloved, fan favorite of New England, and a captain. Vrabel was a leader on the defense, and of course, played on offense in goal line situations for touchdown catches from Tom Brady that quickly became famous. The trade was shocking and hurtful to Vrabel who didn’t speak to head coach Bill Belichick for two years, but now he understands saying in 2012 “Bill and I are more than fine now. To be honest, I had this revelation. Let’s say, for example, I stayed in New England and got old, and it got messy. Maybe I got cut. If that happened, we probably wouldn’t have a relationship. Looking back, what Bill did made sense. I went to K.C., met a ton of people. Now Bill and I talk all the time. I get advice on my players. I check on his daughter, who is at Ohio State. We never talked about the trade. We probably never will. But I know this: Bill cares. He doesn’t show it, but if you bust your ass for him, he’s got your back. Now, that may not come across in August in training camp. But one day, these guys will be 36 years old and they’ll understand what he was all about.” Mike Vrabel was a leader for the Chiefs defense but it never changed the defense or the team, although they made the playoffs one season with him and former Patriot QB Matt Cassel. The Patriots now have younger, talented linebackers playing defense with Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, and Brandon Spikes.
Adam Vinatieri, the field goal kicker in all three of Patriots Super Bowl wins, used his leg to win the two of the Super Bowls with no time left. Forever remaining a hero to the Patriots and a favorite. He had one of the most amazing kicks in the blizzard against the Raiders to win the playoff game, leading to their first of three Super Bowls. In 2006 Vinatieri signed with the Colts and won a Super Bowl that same year with the Colts. Vinatieri is a hall of fame kicker,no doubt. The Patriots have made it back to the Super Bowl twice since Vinatieri departed, and the kicker Stephen Gostkowski for Patriots filled in nicely for Vinatieri. He has done a good job for the Patriots in his time with them.
Deion Branch and David Givens were WR the Patriots had let go of one time. Givens was seen as most teams, and fans as a good player they really wanted their teams to sign. Givens was very sought after, the only thing was, people didn’t know the Patriots and Tom Brady made Givens better then what he was. Givens signed a contract with the Titans for 5 years worth 24 million. Givens was thought of as a really good number two option. Givens did nothing for the Titans and became injury ridden. Branch became a hold out on the Patriots team when he was on his last leg of his rookie contract, and was fined by the Patriots for not reporting through the first week of the NFL season that year. On September 11, 2006, the Patriots traded Branch to the Seahawks for a 1st round pick. The Seahawks signed Branch to a 6 year, 39 million contract extension deal. Branch never really gave the Seahawks much, not enough to give him the money they did and the trade they made. Branch became injury ridden while with the Seahawks, and never made a name for himself after leaving the Patriots. That same season the Patriots made it to the AFC Championship with cast aways, and no name wide receivers, cementing Tom Brady’s legacy even more. The Patriots resign Deion Branch later on, and Branch has had a nice fill in role for the Patriots in case of emergencies.
The New England Patriots let Wes Welker go, yes a fan favorite, a friend of Tom Brady’s, and a great player, but it is not like the Patriots haven’t done this before. It seems like the Patriots have a good idea of when to let a player leave, and how to replace that player. It seems like the Patriots know when to not over pay a player too. The Patriots can make trades, and release players like they do because they have the luxury of having a great QB like Tom Brady. When you have an elite QB, replacing players become easy, and allows you not to spend too much money on one player. Great Quarterbacks allow moves and gambles like the Patriots have in the past. Brady holds the offense and the team together. As the Patriots have proven in the past, they will prove again, they can move on, they can win games, and make the playoffs, even without Welker. They will replace his role, and make new puzzle pieces after Welker’s leaving, to make the process easier for the Patriots. The Patriots know exactly what they are doing, so trust Belichick and Robert Kraft with this move, just like you have in the past. It hasn’t slowed down the Patriots yet, and as long as Brady is playing the Patriots will be a great team.