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Pats Madness: Voting in the first two regions has started!

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Related: Help us choose the biggest bust of the Bill Belichick era!

Filling out brackets is a March tradition. It’s no different here at Pats Pulpit. Last year, we looked at the best games of the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick era, which was fun, but this year, we’re doing something a little different: we decided to take a look at the biggest busts of the Belichick era.

They could be draft picks, free agent signings, or trade acquisitions. We picked 32 of the biggest disappointments, and arranged them into a bracket for you to fill out.

Today, voting begins with the first two regions — named after players the Patriots missed out on in order to get some of the busts on our list: the Greg Jennings Region and the DeMarcus Lawrence Region. Make sure to vote in every one of the matchups and discuss your choices in the comment section below!

(Note: if you’re visiting via Google AMP or Apple News go to the full website version to vote)

#1 Chad Jackson vs #8 Reggie Wayne

#1 WR Chad Jackson: The Patriots decided they couldn’t wait to take the Florida wide receiver in the draft, and so they traded up with the Packers — moving up 16 spots — and giving up an extra third rounder in the process. Jackson would finish his Patriots career with 13 catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns. He was hurt in the AFC Championship that year, and ended up only playing two games with no stats in 2007. The Patriots would cut him before the 2008 season, and he would finish his career with a mere 20 receptions. Jackson is arguably one of the biggest misses in Belichick’s draft history, especially given what the Patriots gave up to get him. To throw some salt in the wound, the Packers would take Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings with the pick they acquired from the Patriots.

#8 WR Reggie Wayne: Wayne was already over the hill when he came to the Patriots, as he was 37, so the fact he didn’t make the 53-man roster wasn’t that big of a shock. The issue is that the Patriots gave him $450K guaranteed, and he lasted less than two weeks with the team, requesting his release in early September. He wouldn’t retire until no one else gave him a contract the rest of the season. Was he a huge bust? No. But he was a guy that they were planning on having for depth purposes (which certainly would have been helpful in 2015), and he literally didn’t even last two weeks.

Poll

#1 Chad Jackson vs #8 Reggie Wayne

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Chad Jackson
    (268 votes)
  • 11%
    Reggie Wayne
    (34 votes)
302 votes total Vote Now

#4 Scott Chandler vs #5 Darius Butler

#4 TE Scott Chandler: Before the 2015 season, the Patriots signed the former Bills tight end to a two-year, $5 million contract, hoping he would provide another big target for Tom Brady. He would finish the season with only 23 catches, catching less than 55% of his targets, as he turned into a non-factor during his one season with the team. When he was brought in, expectations were extremely high, and the production from him was never there. The Patriots would cut him in March of 2016.

#5 CB Darius Butler: Butler was one of the players drafted with the picks acquired in the Clay Matthews trade, when the Packers traded up to get the linebacker. Going into the 2009 season, the Patriots were still looking for answers at cornerback after letting Asante Samuel walk the season before. Butler had put up good numbers at the combine, and was considered a great athlete coming out of UConn. He would play two seasons for the Patriots, never really having an impact on the team. He would go on to have a decent career with the Colts, though, but he never lived up to the hopes New England had for him.

Poll

#4 Scott Chandler vs #5 Darius Butler

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Scott Chandler
    (154 votes)
  • 47%
    Darius Butler
    (141 votes)
295 votes total Vote Now

#6 Tavon Wilson vs #3 Antonio Brown

#6 SS Tavon Wilson: Tavon Wilson was one of the most surprising draft picks at least in Patriots history. He was not invited to the combine after finishing his career at Illinois. He was projected to come off the board in the sixth or seventh round. He was projected so low that Mel Kiper Jr. literally didn’t even have notes on him, and couldn’t even comment on the type of player he was when he was taken by New England. Wilson would end up playing his full four years with the Patriots, finishing with four starts and five interceptions. After he wasn’t re-signed by the team in 2016, he would go on to play in Detroit, where he is still playing.

#3 WR Antonio Brown: When Brown was let go by the Raiders at the beginning of the 2019 season, speculation was abound that the Patriots were interested in bringing him in. No one expected it to actually happen, but Belichick once again shocked everyone by giving him a one-year, $15 million contract, and then adding a $20 million option for 2020 as well. He would last less than two weeks. He was cut just a few days after logging four catches and a touchdown in his debut against the Dolphins, after threatening text messages he sent were released. The questions remain about what the Patriots would have been able to do last year if Brown hadn’t forced the team’s hand. The saga continues to this day as he still doesn’t have a team, is in fighting with the Patriots over a withheld signing bonus, and Tom Brady seems to still like him (leaving questions about whether or not he will be brought back in next year if that’s what will keep Brady in town). Honestly, I would need three articles to cover all the layers about Brown, which is what makes this such a huge bust.

Poll

#6 Tavon Wilson vs #3 Antonio Brown

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Tavon Wilson
    (86 votes)
  • 70%
    Antonio Brown
    (210 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now

#7 Laurence Maroney vs #2 Cyrus Jones

#7 RB Laurence Maroney: Another draft pick from 2006, this time from the first round. Was Maroney terrible? No, but he certainly didn’t give the Patriots what they were expecting when they took him 21st overall. In fact, he was the second running back taken after Reggie Bush went with the second overall pick. Three out of the next four running backs taken went on to make the Pro Bowl and have much better careers than Maroney, which also doesn’t help his case much. But, he was okay for the four years he was here. He actually had back-to-back 100-yard games in the playoffs in 2007, and scored a touchdown in all three of them, including the Super Bowl. But, he was never the impact player New England imagined it would get, which is why he ends up on this list.

#2 CB Cyrus Jones: My phone (yes, I usually write these on my phone) accidentally autocorrected “Jones” to “Jokes” and that about sums up Cyrus Jones. In 2016, the Patriots were forced to forfeit their first-round pick, so their first pick ended up being the 60th overall selection. That’s where they selected the Alabama corner, who was going to help in the secondary and in the return game. Turns out, he did neither of those things, as he couldn’t hold onto the ball in the return game, and he couldn’t cover anyone on defense. In his first season with the Patriots, he either fumbled or muffed five (!) punts. Yikes. The Patriots ended up cutting him before the 2018 season, before inexplicably re-signing him off the Ravens’ practice squad a few weeks later. They would cut him again a few weeks later. The best thing Jones ever did for the Patriots was fumble a punt against them this year, when he was playing for the Ravens. The Patriots recovered, and almost came back to beat the Ravens. Jones is one of the worst draft picks of the Belichick era.

Poll

#7 Laurence Maroney vs #2 Cyrus Jones

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Laurence Maroney
    (34 votes)
  • 88%
    Cyrus Jones
    (259 votes)
293 votes total Vote Now

Let’s move on to the matchups of the DeMarcus Lawrence Region!

#1 Dominique Easley vs #8 Jonathan Fanene

#1 DT Dominique Easley: Easley was a top-10 talent coming out of Florida in 2014. He also had bad knees. This is not a good thing for an NFL player, in case you didn’t already know that. He would finish his Patriots career with 24 tackles and three sacks. He also finished both seasons with the Patriots on injured reserve. He then went to the Rams and actually played a full season, before tearing his ACL again ahead of the 2017 season. Easley would end up playing three games in 2018 for the Rams, before being placed on IR after having yet another knee surgery. Easley is a case of “what if.” What if he had been healthy? The problem is, the Patriots knew his medical history before drafting him, and so it makes the pick look worse. To compound the mistake, the Cowboys selected DeMarcus Lawrence five picks later. I was going to write something like “imagine if they had taken Lawrence instead?” but the Patriots have won three Super Bowls since drafting Easley. Still, imagine if they had drafted Lawrence instead.

#8 DT Jonathan Fanene: Don’t worry, it’s okay if you don’t remember Fanene — most people don’t — since he never actually played for the Patriots. After recording 11 sacks with Cincinnati in 2011, the Patriots signed Fanene to a three-year, $12 million contract. He was going to help with interior pass rush, something they’ve always placed a premium on. However, it didn’t work out that way. New England knew he had knee issues, but what the team didn’t know was that he had tendinitis in his knees and the way he dealt with the pain was prescription pain killers. The Patriots ended up cutting him in August, before the 2012 season even started, and filed a grievance to not pay him the guaranteed money from his contract for “failure to disclose a physical condition.”

Poll

#1 Dominique Easley vs #8 Jonathan Fanene

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    Dominique Easley
    (227 votes)
  • 20%
    Jonathan Fanene
    (57 votes)
284 votes total Vote Now

#4 Jermaine Cunningham vs #5 Kenny Britt

#4 LB Jermaine Cunningham: The Patriots had a great draft in 2010, selecting Devin McCourty in the first round and Rob Gronkowski in the second. Their other second-round pick, however, did not turn out so well. Jermaine Cunningham was an edge rusher from Florida who never effectively rushed the passer for the Patriots. In his three seasons with the team, he accumulated a total of 3.5 sacks. Putting it frankly, he stunk, and they whiffed on another potential pass rushing defensive lineman. Cunningham is forgettable, but still a big miss, especially when Carlos Dunlap was taken one pick later by the Bengals.

#5 WR Kenny Britt: Britt was acquired by the Patriots in December of 2017, playing in two games for the Patriots at the end of the year. He was inactive for the Super Bowl, but the expectation was that he was going to be a big part of the receiving corps in the 2018 season. He wouldn’t make it through training camp. He was only 30, and the type of big-body receiver the Patriots were looking for, but he just couldn’t make the roster. This led to New England ultimately trading for Josh Gordon, and never being able to fill that hole in the receiving corps.

Poll

#4 Jermaine Cunningham vs #5 Kenny Britt

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Jermaine Cunningham
    (186 votes)
  • 33%
    Kenny Britt
    (93 votes)
279 votes total Vote Now

#6 Doug Gabriel vs #3 Ron Brace

#6 WR Doug Gabriel: 2006 was a bad year for the Patriots offense. They traded Deion Branch (one of the best trades ever, seriously), and to replace him drafted Chad Jackson while also signing Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel. Unlike Caldwell, who wasn’t that good, but was mostly reliable (I said mostly, relax), Gabriel was basically useless. He ended his stint with the Patriots with only 25 catches, and was cut in December, not even making it all the way through his only season in New England.

#3 DT Ron Brace: Brace tragically passed away at the age of only 29 back in 2016, so I won’t say anything bad about him. He was, however, drafted 40th overall in 2009, and finished his almost four years in New England with a total of 39 tackles and zero sacks.

Poll

#6 Doug Gabriel vs #3 Ron Brace

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Doug Gabriel
    (158 votes)
  • 43%
    Ron Brace
    (121 votes)
279 votes total Vote Now

#7 Deltha O’Neal vs #2 Adalius Thomas

#7 CB Deltha O’Neal: O’Neal had been a solid cornerback for the Broncos and Bengals, making two Pro Bowls and being selected as an All-Pro in 2005. He came to the Patriots in 2008, and simply wasn’t the same. He ended the year with three interceptions, but never really had the impact that the team had hoped he would. After letting Asante Samuel walk in free agency, they needed a lockdown corner, which O’Neal definitely was not.

#2 LB Adalius Thomas: Thomas was the first big free agent signing of Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England. They shelled out $35 million over five years for him, and the start of their time together went very well. Thomas was a big part of the defense in 2007, was the one passing out “Humble Pie” shirts, and even had a monster Super Bowl. But things would not continue that way for long, after an injury-shortened 2008, something changed in 2009. He was deactivated for the 59-0 game against the Titans, and did not respond well. Then, when he and a few other members were sent home for being late because of a snow storm, he again responded poorly. The Patriots decided to move on after the season, cutting him the day after the draft. His first season was very good, but it was the first time Belichick had even really set the market in free agency, and they got way less than they paid for. Given his physical ability and initial buy-in, it’s not crazy to think Thomas could have finished his career as a Patriot Hall of Famer, and that’s why, to me, he is one of the biggest busts of the Belichick era.

Poll

#7 Deltha O’Neal vs #2 Adalius Thomas

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Deltha O’Neal
    (78 votes)
  • 72%
    Adalius Thomas
    (206 votes)
284 votes total Vote Now