The Patriots made headlines today, trading for defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth from Washington and wide receiver Chad Johnson from Cincinnati.
These are obviously big ticket transactions. Haynesworth in particular feels like a gamble, but the Pats only gave up a fifth round pick, which they seem to have plenty of every year. The worst of the big contract is over. Only big unguaranteed bonus money waits on the horizon, which he will never reach. The question here is whether anything within a team concept can possibly motivate Haynesworth. The guy has played hard two years out of his career, his two contract seasons. After an ugly breakup in Washington, does he have any motivation to try and win a Super Bowl and restore his shattered image? He seems like such a bad guy, that I am not sure he will conform to Bill Belichick. I also kind of feel like buying low on a guy like him would have been the kind of move the Jets would have jumped on if their due diligence had not turned up with a negative report.
I can't say I'm happy about this, though. He might very well conform. If it happens, watch out. I know the Pats are listed as a base 3-4 team, but that label is not a strict one. They use a lot of four man fronts. He and Vince Wilfork in the middle would be very tough to block. It would free up a lot of guys on the edges, and the pass rushers the Pats send will look a lot better with those two drawing attention than they would otherwise. One thing to note about Haynesworth is that he is not going to play the entire game. Even when he was dominating in Tennessee, he needed a lot of plays off. At his best, he gives you two-thirds to three-quarters dominant snaps, which is nothing to sneeze at.
The acquisition of Chad Johnson seems to fit a real need to me. I am higher on this move for New England. The Pats' lack of a deep threat was exposed in the Playoffs against the Jets. Johnson would provide that. He also has great footwork. He seems like the kind of guy who got bored in Cincy and needed a change of scenery. For all of his antics, he seems like an intelligent guy and a student of the game. He does stuff for attention, but there have been times where he has toned it down because he knew it was time to get serious. He'll probably quiet the act. I think he'll love playing for Bill Belichick.
Am I scared of him? Of course not. Darrelle Revis owns him. I do think it becomes a bit more important for the Jets to land Nnamdi Asomugha, though. Remember in the Playoffs how the Jets trusted Revis and Antonio Cromartie alone on the outside and clogged the middle of the field? You can trust Revis on Johnson, but Cromartie on Deion Branch? You better get Nnamdi.
I think the Pats made some no risk, high reward moves. If either guy acts up, New England can dump them. Am I scared? No way. You know the Pats are always going to put a great team on the field and that it will be a great challenge to beat them. The Jets beat them in 2010. They are going to have the talent and coaching to give New England another run for its money this year.