The New England Patriots are poised to tackle the 2011 NFL Football season with full force after two super early trades to shore up their defense and offense. Superstar Bengals Wide Receiver Chad Ochocinco and Redskins Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth go to the Patriots in exchange for draft picks. These are two smart moves to snatch up some great talent as early as possible. If this is what the Patriots are up to so soon after the lockout ends, the weeks to come when free agency targets can be acquired will reap even more rewards.
The Patriots inherit two huge talents, though both come with their own baggage. Ochocinco is flashy and controversial whenever he can be. New England is a place where big egos go to die. Chad's antics won't mesh with the Patriots if he can't tone it down a little.
Haynesworth has much heavier baggage, though. He made headlines for viciously cleating an opponent in the face in 2006. Haynewsworth earned a stiff five game suspension for the incident and lost nearly $200,000 in salary. Wikipedia described the attack as follows:
On October 1, 2006 in the third quarter of a game against the Cowboys, running back Julius Jones scored on a rushing play. Center Andre Gurode fell to the ground, and his helmet was removed by Haynesworth. Haynesworth tried to stomp on Gurode's head, but missed. A second stomp opened a severe wound on Gurode's forehead, narrowly missing his right eye. The referee assessed Haynesworth with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, to which Haynesworth protested by taking off his helmet and throwing it into the turf; Haynesworth was then assessed an additional 15-yard penalty and ejected.
Though Haynesworth toned down the worst of his on-field behavior since that debacle, his clashes with coaches and off the field personal issues flared up in recent years. New England is just as good as disciplinary boot camp for a guy like Haynesworth. The move will allow him the opportunity to play for a team that takes defense very seriously. The Patriots are also likely to add another veteran linebacker to the mix if the right opportunity to pick one up materializes through free agency.
Haynesworth may well undergo the same kind of transformation Linebacker Bryan Cox experienced when the Patriots acquired him. Cox had a history of unruly behavior before joining the team he would retire with. Bill Belichick took a chance on Cox, and Cox later helped the Patriots win Superbowl XXXVI in 2002. Cox went on to become a coach himself after playing under Belichick during the early years of what would become a defensive dynasty.
Haynesworth's numbers dropped off recently, but he's a dominant defensive lineman who still has a lot of football life left in him. Belichick's defensive scheme could be the perfect place for him to thrive.
Ochocinco adds offensive depth and bolsters a squad of receivers who are young and hungry. Despite his larger than life persona, Ochocinco is a pure athlete with speed and experience. If he lives up to his own hype, Ochocinco will put the best years of the Tom Brady and Randy Moss partnership to shame. He will help take the pressure of Wes Welker and Patriot Tight Ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
These two quick moves by the Patriots put them in position to be a major force in the NFL this year. Another Superbowl could certainly be in their future for 2012.