My beloved New England Patriots made quite a bit of NFL news today, reportedly making two separate trades to acquire DT Albert Haynesworth and WR Chad Ochocinco. Both players are big names for their on the field production throughout their careers. Both players come with baggage, perceived (Ochocinco) or real (Haynesworth). Both trades are reportedly for future draft picks, not likely to be high-valued picks. Both players’ careers in New England will be classic boom-or-bust options.
For Haynesworth, he’s been a dominating force on the defensive line for most of his career, this last year in Washington notwithstanding. His tenure with the Redskins was a disaster, no doubt about it. However, he’s still young enough that he should have plenty of gas left in the tank. I think he can be disruptive in getting into the backfield to pressure opposing quarterbacks, by playing next to a classic middle-of-the-line DT like Vince Wilfork. Haynesworth will play more of the hybrid DT/DE role that the Patriots haven’t had since trading away Richard Seymour. Play Haynesworth in that role, and I suspect he’ll be motivated to return to a Pro Bowl level and put the Washington disaster behind him.
As far as Ochocinco goes, I’ve always thought his antics to be fun and harmless. He’s not a malcontent, he doesn’t get in trouble off-the-field. His production won’t be what it used to be, and he’ll still get shut down by CBs like Darelle Revis. Otherwise, he should give Tom Brady yet another weapon to use against defenses. Don’t forget that the Patriots were putting up huge scores last year — without a top-flight wide receiver on the outside. Ochocinco will keep defenses honest and spread the field, opening up more room for Wes Welker. As if Tom Brady needed more help.
When it comes to the Patriots, either you love them or you hate them. Success (and that whole Spygate business) over the past decade has turned everyone outside of the fan base against the Pats. When they won their first Super Bowl, they were the underdog and the darlings of the NFL — a team-first group of players, unheralded overachievers. Since then, sentiment has turned. Now when you add two polarizing players like Haynesworth and Ochocinco, you could practically hear the outcry of anti-Patriots sentiment coming from the Internet, even if you were offline.
I’m okay with that. I’m okay that my team is going to be the villain. Bring it on. Go Pats!
Update: Sure enough, after I post this, I see that Mark Schlereth agrees with me about Haynesworth being the new Richard Seymour for New England.