Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Bill Belichick is a trader, extraordinare

He's trading Randy Moss, just like he traded away Richard Seymour and Deion Branch in the past decade, Seymour arguably being the top defensive lineman in the league at the time, and Branch earning Superbowl MVP honors a year earlier.

Now the cost and risk is material. It doesn't matter if Moss goes a whole game untargeted by Tom Brady, as long as he is drawing double teams. By losing Moss and the deep threat he poses, the production of every receiver will diminish, as opposing defenses will be able to free up defensive backs from covering Moss deep, so they can cover the shorter routes and even the running game more effectively.

But shorter term, the Patriots have an offset to losing Moss. They now have the best tight-end corps in the league: veteran Alge Crumpler, and rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The first two block really well, the second two have proven to be dependable in the passing game, as Crumpler has over his distinguished career. (And have you noticed that Chris Johnson's production has fallen way off, now that Crumpler is no longer blocking for him?)

Longer term, Belichick stockpiles draft picks the way David Einhorn and John Paulson are stockpiling gold*. And as I noted with the rookies above, he had a great draft in 2010, even with genius manager Scott Pioli leaving for Kansas City. In addition to the great rookie tight ends, the Patriots have 3 rookies on defense starting: Devin McCourty, Brandon Spikes, and Jermaine Cunningham. The defense continues to lack credibility, but they will only get better. My point is, that Belichick can draft better than most, so more picks allow him to arbitrage the player market better than other teams.

Belichick is selling high and buying low. Everyone understands that; few can do it. The rich get richer. I posted on one reason why, in the quotes of the day yesterday.

UPDATE: Bill Belichick's statement:
Over the course of the past several months, I have spoken with Randy and his representative about Randy’s place on our team and his future in football. Consistent with my dealings with Randy from the day we acquired him through our conversation this morning, it has been honest, thoughtful and with great mutual respect. While I will keep private the details of internal conversations with players and staff, suffice it to say that many things were taken into consideration before making the trade. In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions, but it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team, in both the short term and long term. I am grateful for the opportunity to have coached Randy Moss and aside from facing him as an opponent, I wish him the very best for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.

UPDATE: Tedy Bruschi has some interesting news:
What I'm hearing now is that in that locker room there are some players frustrated with Randy, in that locker room there are coaches frustrated with Randy. Internally, he's turning into the same player he was at the end of his tenure in Minnesota, in Oakland, and now in New England.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, my fellow fans are upset. But Troy Brown is as copacetic as I am.

UPDATE: As if the drama couldn't get any better, the Patriots face the Vikings in Week 7, on Halloween.

*Yes, I am still short gold, but I did buy some more palladium. Didn't want to be short metal this month.

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