Since roster cuts were announced many people have been asking the question, ‘why didn’t the Patriots trade Brandon Meriweather, rather than simply cut him?’ It is indeed a legitimate question, but perhaps part of the answer to that question can be connected to the primary NFL story of 2011: the NFL lockout.


All twelve months of the calendar are typically filled for an NFL team; their work year does not end when the final game of the season is played. Besides the draft there are rookie mini-camps, full squad mini-camps, off-season conditioning programs, rehab for injured players and film study, not just for coaches but for players as well. Because of all this position coaches, coordinators, head coaches and player personnel executives have a very good idea about who has progressed and who may have regressed before physicals and conditioning tests take place on the first day of training camp.


However, this year teams did not have any of that early evaluation process. In addition, much of the early part of training camp required focus on other aspects to building a roster: formulating a budget and assigning values based on the new CBA and salary cap; talking to and signing undrafted free agents; signing rookie draftees; consideration of trades of players that other teams had already determined they did not want returning; re-signing of the team’s own players that had become unrestricted free agents; attempts to sign other team’s veteran free agents; and contract extensions for veterans like Logan Mankins. Player evaluations for veterans already on the roster became a secondary priority.


In addition to all that the Patriots themselves made some coaching change this past year. Safeties coach Corwin Brown was fired and replaced by Matt Patricia, and Patrick Graham took over Patricia’s position as linebacker coach. Regardless of how much film study these two did and how much feedback they got from other members of the coaching staff, it’s just not the same as going out on the practice field and working with those players from your assigned unit.


Few would argue that the Patriots’ defense has not been of championship caliber the last few years. Some of that can be blamed on an inadequate pass rush, some on injuries to the defensive line, and some of the stats from last year may be misleading as teams compiled a lot of passing yardage after they fell behind while the Pats were content to let opponents gain some yards in exchange for not giving up a big scoring play while the clock wound down. However, the secondary still needed to improve; the inability to get off the field on third down was disturbing.


I am thinking that perhaps once Patricia finally got a chance to get on the field with his unit he noticed even more deficiencies than what he noticed on tape, and it was very alarming to him.


If this was indeed the case then by the time the problem became apparent roster cutdowns were just around the corner. James Sanders was probably untradable due to his contract but the same cannot be said about Brandon Meriweather. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe made some phone calls and said twelve teams told him that they were not contacted by the Pats about a possible trade for Meriweather. I have no reason to doubt Bedard (one of the best Pats reporters, in my opinion; he made some excellent observations about BM in this column), but consider where Meriweather ended up going, Chicago. Waivers are based on reverse order of last year’s record, and the Bears had the second best record in their conference last year, making it to the NFCCG.


That tells me that there were an awful lot of teams that did not put in a waiver claim for Meriweather, if those other teams did not bother to put in a claim for him then obviously they were not interested in giving up a draft pick or a player for Meriweather either. Bill Belichick said that he contacted about the same number of teams that he normally does in an attempt to trade Meriweather but was unable to work out a deal; the supposition that he did not even attempt to trade Meriweather just does not seem to be a reasonable assumption. Teams seemed to be more willing – in fact eager –  to wait for roster cuts to add players this year; while the only trades were the few that were made days after the lockout ended.


Whether it was because this year’s calendar was so different, Meriweather’s fines, his off-season legal controversy, his being one year away from free agency, or some combination of all those things – along with criticism of his free-lancing and taking poor angles on tackles – it seems to me that many Pats fans may have overestimated Meriweather’s trade value. I myself had considered him to be a solid starter that was attractive trade bait due to his relatively team-friendly contract; apparently NFL general managers put more weight into all those other factors.




A blast from the rock and roll past for Brandon Meriweather and all the other NFL veterans that had a surprise visit from the Turk last week:

Fight the Power, by the Isley Brothers


I’m not really sure why so many commentators acted shocked that the University of South Florida defeated Notre Dame last week. The only reason the Fighting Irish were so heavily favored was because of their name, and so many of their fans bet with their heart instead of their head. I expected the Bulls to win; my only surprise was that they had to rely so heavily on turnovers to do that.


Move over Joey Chestnut, the PEC (Professional Eating Circuit) has a new champion. Sonya Thomas downed 183 chicken wings in fifteen minutes. If she has a nice pedicure Rex Ryan may seek a divorce.


News of stupid people from Floriduh: Clearwater woman pulls out a bag of pot when police ask her for her ID.


More news of stupid people in Floriduh: A 47-year old woman at Jensen Beach Causeway in Stuart had to go real bad, so she pulled down her pants and went; unfortunately it was in view of others at the beach, including a woman with young children who alerted a deputy there. When the officer approached her and asked her about it, her response was that her pants had fallen down because she had lost weight.

One more piece of news about stupid people in Floriduh: a guy pulls up to an accident scene with cops all over the place, and tries to steal a truck that was parked there. Oh yeah, there was a five year old in the back seat of the truck too.