By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots InsiderFollow @tomecurran
On Sunday, I asked someone who ought to know what they thought of the rumor that Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco might be released by the Patriots before the season. "Right. And Michael Vick is coming in for a tryout."Before we get to the seeming absurdity of the OchoAlbert rumor itself, let's look at why these things bubble up. First, the Patriots have standing. They are in the front of people's minds. They are discussed in conversations between reporters and league sources because they are compelling. Those conversations generate conjecture. Second, Bill Belichick does make wacky, unforeseen personnel decisions with some regularity. Where do we want to start? Lawyer Milloy cut? Rodney Harrison signed? Randy Moss traded for? Randy Moss traded away? Richard Seymour? You can come up with any eventuality and -- no matter how far-fetched -- it has to be deemed possible because precedent says far-fetched things occur. Finally, the Patriots are so good at keeping their business in-house any crumbs of information that drop from the table are hungrily attacked with an "Ah-HA!" mindset. Because of reason No. 2 (the "anything's possible" notion) and reason No. 1 (people give a crap about the Patriots), there's not a lot of deep analysis that goes into these rumors when they break. They spread virally in a wave and, after the initial wave has crashed, then comes the effort to poke holes in the veracity of it. That's where I come in. Mike Felger has taken to calling me The Great Debunker because I debunk. That process now begins: 1. Love Dan Pompei, the man who reported that there's an executive out therethat expects Ocho and Albert to be released. Pompei is a very hard worker. Smart. Knows the game. It's important to understand that, in this instance, Pompei is the conduit through which a source provided an opinion. That opinion belonged to "one NFL executive familiar with the Patriots ways." Knowing Dan, he's going to be judicious in whose opinion he cites. But trusted, veteran football men have bad opinions. That's why JaMarcus Russell was drafted No. 1 overall, Tim Tebow was taken 25th and Tom Brady was taken 199th. And, since Bill Belichick has been in New England since 2000 and in the NFL since 1975, there are hundreds of NFL executives who are by now familiar with the Patriots ways. Pompei happened to speak to one who believed these players would be released. There's no doubt a few more that believe they will be retained. 2. The executive's logic makes no sense. To wit: "The front office man thinks coach Bill Belichick will use the controversial players to help control and send a message to his locker room."
Belichick doesn't currently have a locker room begging for control. This team is a nice blend of veterans and young players. Its superstars and highest-paid players are on board. A lot of the younger guys are damn happy to be in key spots on a great team seeing as they were either ovelooked or damaged goods coming out of college. Players like Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Gary Guyton, Kyle Arrington, Rob Ninkovich and Mike Wright. These key guys are not about to be led down the primrose path of malingering, insubordination and reality shows by Ocho and Albert. Sorry. 3. Releasing either player makes no sense financially or football-wise. Cutting Ochocinco would be a waste of 5 million and two draft picks. That doesn't feel like solid business right there. Additionally, the guy clearly has plenty left in the tank athletically and is working his ass off.
As for Albert, yes he's been in the shop. Yes, there's little financial risk if they jettison him. But when he's been on the field he's been a wrecking ball. Belichick is not going to look at the devastation Haynesworth can wreak in his 4-3 defense, shrug and then cut Haynesworth to prove a point. Not after the way last season ended. Effort has been expended on Haynesworth. Promise was shown. Expectations are there. He will be too.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
By Tom E. Curran