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Jason Taylor Redux - revisiting JT as a Patriot

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The back-and-forth on Julius Peppers has been maddening.  Vic Carucci of had us all believing the deal for Peppers, handing over our 34th overall draft pick to Carolina, was all but sealed.  Within a day, Adam Schefter essentially had his colleague eating his words when, on an interview with WEEI, he said it wasn't going to happen.  When Belichick was interviewed by WEEI, we blogged the daylights out of that lengthy Q&A.  Belichick confirmed what Schefter was saying all along however, he didn't say the deal would NEVER happen, just that it hadn't happened.  Many read into what Belichick was saying when he repeatedly referenced the fact that Julius didn't have a signed contract with Carolina, therefore could not be dealt by the team.  People were suggesting Coach was hinting, very strongly I might add, that Peppers should sign the contract offered by Carolina so New England could begin trade talks.  I think that's a bit of a stretch and basically reading too much into comments made by Belichick, but that's just my opinion.

I would love to see Julius on this team; he's young, fast, and athletic.  As a 4-3 defensive end, it's not that much of a leap to pickup outside linebacker in a 3-4.  He'd be a monster.  However, there's a few things already going for the Patriots that make a move for Peppers more of a luxury than a must have:  a) Adalius Thomas and Pierre Woods are capable OLBs, b) we have depth in Shawn Crable and Vince Redd, and c) Jason Taylor is looming on the horizon.

As we all know, Jason Taylor spent 11 years with the Miami Dolphins and a forgettable 2008 with the Redskins.  He's currently enjoying the off-season with his family in Florida and could be perfectly content to stay there.  However, the one thing Taylor doesn't have is a ring.  In the twilight of many a player's career, that thought will cross their mind more than once.  Wouldn't it be nice to have some hardware on my hand... There are a lot of things going for this deal.  Kraft would love to have him in a Patriots uniform and is not shy about saying so:

"Great player," owner Robert Kraft said with a big smile while at the owners meetings. "I'm sure that can happen if he wants it."

Two sources close to Taylor indicated last weekend that the Patriots are his top choice. Taylor has spent most of the month with his family in South Florida since being cut by Washington and is in no drastic hurry to sign with a team.

One thing the Patriots are VERY good at is keeping an eye on opposing players during matchups.  Belichick is one of the best at evaluating talent on film and gameday to see if there's a potential fit when the opportunity presents itself.  He's not always on target (Deltha O'Neal), but when he hits, it's pure magic (Wes Welker anyone?).  Having played against Taylor twice a year for many seasons, Brady had gained a healthy respect for the man and was doing cartwheels when he was out of the division.  That's just the kind of guy Belichick looks for - one that gives fits when trying to scheme against him.

Taylor could easily fill the void left by now Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel.  He could step into that position without too much trouble.  However, I was curious how a Dolphins fan would feel about longtime 'Fin Taylor wearing a Patriots uniform.  Matty I, head blogger at The Phinsider and a raving lunatic of a Dolphins fan, had this to say:

Jason would be a great fit for the Patriots as a situational pass rusher.  He's still got that speed off the edge and I think Bill Belichick would really know how to best utilize Taylor - much like Nick Saban did in 2006 when Taylor won the Defensive Player of the Year award.

But to many Dolphin fans, Taylor would take a serious hit in terms of his legacy in Miami.  After all, Zach Thomas came out after being released by the Dolphins and said he could never play for the Patriots after spending his entire career learning to dislike them.  So if Jason was to end up in New England, I think some Dolphin fans would feel betrayed.  At the very least, his legacy, to some, would be greatly tarnished.

I second Matty I's feeling that Taylor may take a hit in terms of his legacy.  As teams in the same division, the players and fans have a healthy rivalry that's not uncommon for division rivals and, given Taylor is a beloved member of the Florida community, strapping on a Patriots helmet could give 'Fins fans heartburn.  Twice a year, Taylor would be working to drop Chad Pennington to the turf.

Is Taylor a good fit?  I believe he is.  We could get him for a fraction of what Julius Peppers would cost and shore up an area that is in good shape, but could use some more depth and experience.  While we may not need his Dancing with the Stars talents, we could certainly use someone who gives quarterbacks fits.  C'mon Jason, whaddya say?

[Props to Matty I from The Phinsider for his fan perspective]