The biggest gripe that Patriots fans could possibly have over the past two seasons is that Bill Belichick has not truly addressed the pass rush until the acquisition of defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth. While Bill Belichick seems to work voodoo on some of the most famous headcases in recent NFL memory, (yes, you, Randy Moss) there is legitimate concern that even Belichick might not be able to turn around Haynesworth.
So if the Haynesworth doesn’t work out, which he very well could not, the Patriots need to find help elsewhere.
Osi Umenyiora’s agent has been able to look for potential trade partners. Reportedly, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, San Diego, St. Louis, Seattle, Denver and Baltimore all have expressed interest in Umenyiora.
Unfortunately, the New York Giants are asking for a first-round draft choice. Those same draft choices which, due to the new collective bargaining agreement, are a bit less costly now and have much better value.
The Patriots could choose to address the need via free agency, or see who hits the scrap heap at final cuts, but if they wish to have a solid plan right now, adding Umenyiora might be something they should consider.
The Patriots just recently let their most disruptive pass rusher go in Tully Banta-Cain due to an abdominal injury. Jermaine Cunningham showed promise last season but that is far from a sure thing, and the next two greatest threats are Rob Ninkovich and Mike Wright—neither who really shout “explosive pass rusher.”
The Patriots have a strong presence in the middle of the field with Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton and Vince Wilfork. There is a need to solidify the pass rush that Belichick has been unwilling to do via the draft for the past two seasons.
Umenyiora has likely seen his peak but was certainly no slouch last year, finding his way to the quarterback 11.5 times and forcing 10 fumbles. Those are numbers he could easily match in Foxborough.
The problem comes with finding the right compensation for the Giants. If they are truly going to be firm on the first-round draft pick, the Patriots will likely opt out as they prefer to turn first-round picks into multiple picks (in hopes of one day, selecting every player in the second round maybe?). This might be the time to cash in those chips.
Brady is not getting any younger and there seems to be plenty of teams who have figured out how to win in Foxborough in January, so the time might be now to trade in some chips. The free agent market is no longer offering up any great buys, so this will probably be the only way to add a stud pass-rusher.
New England does happen to hold an extra first-round draft pick next year. Just saying.