In one day, the New England Patriots traded for two of the most talented malcontents in pro football.There isn’t another team in the NFL that could – or would – pull off such a daring feat just days before training camps open.
But the Patriots are not the best organisation in football because they make moves like this.
They can make moves like this because they are the best organisation. And everyone knows it.
Lots of teams make outrageous headline splashing roster moves, but none do it with the same level of savvy and planning that New England does. They understand their own strengths and weakness so well, and are such expert practitioners of the philosophy of “buy low, sell high,” that what seems like a gamble for most clubs is just business as usual in Patriot Country.
1) The moves aren’t that daring.
They gave up a future 5th round draft pick for Haynesworth, a guy that the Redskins paid $100 million to sign just two years ago. They gave up two late rounders (in 2012 and ’13) for Ochocinco. If these deals don’t work out, it will have cost the Patriots very little of their own capital.
2) They are daring enough to pull the plug if it fails.
Where most businesses get into trouble is by making a bad decision and then doubling down on it, because they’re afraid to admit when they were wrong. Randy Moss was one of the most successful wide receivers in the history of the franchise. At the first sign of trouble (Week 4 last season, when he had no catches), they traded him for pennies on the dollar and never looked back. If Chad or Albert gives them the slightest headache, they’ll be out the door before they can pack their bags.
3) The upside is gigantic.
Haynesworth was the best defender in football just three years ago. Ochocinco has definitely lost a step … but so had Moss before he broke the single season touchdown record after coming over Oakland. If either man even approaches his past excellence, the Patriots will be a much better team for it.
4) They don’t care what anyone thinks.
A less secure GM and/or coach wouldn’t dare risk his reputation on what most fans will consider a risky move. Bill Belichick has no such qualms, because …
5) They have the track record.
Despite his obvious talent, a lot of great teams wouldn’t touch Haynesworth after his sulking, season-killing performance with Washington. They also don’t want the headaches that an over-tweeting, fine-collecting player like Ochocinco brings. But guys like them act out when their teams are bad and they don’t respect their coaches. Neither of those things are true about New England and Bill Belichick, who have a history of resurrecting the careers of “troubled” stars. Ochocinco even agreed to make his one-year contract a three-year deal, because he trusts that he’s going to the right place.
These two singing may not make the Patriots the best team on the field in 2011 – though they sure look like the scariest right now – but they prove once again why this franchise is the most successful NFL club of the last 15 years. Making smart moves, at the right time, with the right pieces, is the secret to their success.
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