Yesterday, the New England Patriots made one of the biggest moves of the offseason when the team traded Pro Bowl defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals. It was the latest in a series of huge trades and releases the Patriots have made in the past few years.
Deion Branch, Richard Seymour and Logan Mankins all were big-name players and key pieces of the team when they were traded away because of contract, performance or age (or a combination of both). To quote head coach Bill Belichick "it is what it is".
While Belichick’s personnel approach is an important reason why the Patriots stay competitive year in and year out, it is also the reason why the team has not won more championships – at least according to one former Patriot, Ty Law (via Pro Football Talk):
I think it has cost them championships. I think they let go of too many guys who can rally the troops and win Super Bowls.
Law, one of the best players to ever wear the Patriots uniform, knows a thing or two about leaving Foxboro early because of financial reasons. New England released the veteran cornerback after the 2004 season because of his $12.6 million cap hit. The Patriots certainly could have used Law in 2005, just like the team could have used Branch in 2006 or Seymour in 2011.
Alas, they didn’t have them – but despite the team falling short in all those years it is still hard to argue against Bill Belichick’s track record. After all, New England’s head coach values a deep and balanced roster to ensure that the team is in a position to compete for a championship every single season, no matter what happens along the way.