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Editors Note: This is the second in a six part series looking at Patriots game changing moves this offseason. The first article focused on the Patriots re-signing Vince Wilfork, shedding their image of a team that doesn't pay. Again, we'd like to thank Sprint for helping sponsor Pats Pulpit.
Game-Changing Offseason Move #2: Patriots Release Adalius Thomas
In 2009, for the first time in over 10 years, the Patriots had a locker room problem that reflected their performance on the field. Many considered the root of that problem to be Adalius Thomas, who was a healthy scratch against Tennessee in week six, and had seen a major decrease in playing time.
When Thomas signed his major free agent contract in the Spring of 2007, the expectations were sky high. After all, Thomas was coming off a career high 11 sack Pro Bowl season, and was an athletic freak who had played nearly every position on defense except for cornerback. He was fast, athletic, versatile, strong... just think of the terror that Bill Belichick could create with a weapon like Adalius Thomas.
In 2007, things went well with the Patriots and Adalius Thomas. Thomas, while probably more effective playing on the outside, started at inside linebacker for the Patriots. However, when Rosevelt Colvin went down with a season ending injury, Thomas moved back to the outside. At this point, Thomas bought in to Bill Belichick's ideology, even handing out "Humble Pie" t-shirts in the locker room.
2008 also went well for Thomas and the Patriots. With rookie Jerod Mayo in the fold, Thomas played outside, and was part of virtually every package on defense. He was also the team leader in sacks before going down with a season ending injury in week 10.
Thomas was never the same.
In 2009, Adalius Thomas and Bill Belichick never saw eye to eye. No one really knows where it went wrong. Thomas didn't a good locker room presence, and felt that he wasn't being used correctly. His negative locker room presence may have been the reason for the Patriots' lackluster performances near the end of the season against teams like the Dolphins, Bills, and Panthers.
Following "Late-Gate," as the media liked to call it, it was obvious that there would be no amends with Thomas and the Patriots. And by finally releasing Thomas earlier this week, the Patriots completed a game-changing move; a complete overhaul of their locker room.
By re-signing players like Leigh Bodden and Tully Banta-Cain, and by bringing in rookies like Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty, players who are leaders and good citizens on and off the field, the Patriots established that the bad locker room chemistry would not continue into 2010. The release of Adalius Thomas really was a symbol of the entire locker room overhaul.
Now, I have two questions for you guys.
- Have the Patriots finished their locker room overhaul? Do you think there are enough leaders and good character guys to avoid another Adalius Thomas?
- Are the Patriots settled at outside linebacker? As much of a bad seed that Adalius Thomas was, he was an important player for the Patriots in 2007, 2008, and even part of 2009. The Patriots brought in Jermaine Cunningham. Is that enough?