PHOTO: Scott Pioli, New England Patriots vice president of Player Personnel, holds the Vince
Lombardi trophy and waves to the crowd during a Super Bowl victory parade in Boston,
Feb. 8, 2005. The Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in the Super Bowl.
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
The Patriots may be Bill Belichick's team, but Vice President of Player Personnel
Scott Pioli continues to earn deserved credit for the job he's done in procuring
players for Belichick to coach. Pioli was recognized for the second straight year
as the George Young NFL Executive of the Year during last week's owners meetings
"This is a humbling honor; a result of a lot of hard work
by a lot of people," the 39-year-old Pioli said. "I'm fortunate to be
surrounded by a tremendous support staff. Without them, I couldn't do my job."
has done a marvelous job in building a three-time championship team and in helping
to make sure the Patriots haven't rested on their success, but rather continued
to work toward improving despite operating at or very near the salary cap each
The Patriots biggest splash last spring came when the club dealt
one of two second round draft picks to the Bengals for running back Corey Dillon,
who represented a major upgrade over the serviceable but unspectacular Antowain Smith. All Dillon did was rush for a Patriots record 1,635 yards and help the
Pats repeat as Super Bowl champs.
But Pioli's work went beyond the trade
for Dillon. He made the difficult decisions to draw the financial line in the
sand in negotiations with Damien Woody and Ted Washington, allowing those players
to leave in free agency while adding veteran Keith Traylor for much less money
than what Washington received in a free agent deal from the Raiders. He also signed
free agent punter Josh Miller to upgrade a position that was the team's biggest
weakness in 2003 when Ken Walter struggled mightily.
His 2004 draft picks
did not make nearly the impact that his impressive 2003 class did in helping him
become the youngest winner of the Executive of the Year award last season, but
rookie Vince Wilfork's strong season combined with Traylor's contributions negated
Pioli also gets some credit for building a roster that
was capable of winning a championship without the services of starting cornerbacks
Ty Law and Tyrone Poole for much of the season and for winning in the postseason
with star defensive lineman Richard Seymour out with a knee injury.
missed the club's first two playoff games last January but was adequately replaced
by 2002 fourth round pick Jarvis Green while the Patriots went 12-1 without Law
and Poole in the lineup, instead relying on second-year man and 2003 fourth rounder
Asante Samuel and undrafted rookie free agent Randall Gay at the corners. Gay
was perhaps the biggest steal of the offseason after going undrafted and signing
just a few days after last April's draft. He impressed from the start of training
camp and carried it through the season with extensive playing time.
is only the third executive to win the award in consecutive seasons joining Bobby
Beathard and Bill Polian in that category.
Patriots announced their preseason schedule and will travel to Cincinnati for
the second straight summer while also visiting Green Bay's Lambeau Field. The
Pats also will host the Saints, a team they will also face in the regular season,
and the Giants. New England will then open the season with a Thursday night nationally
televised prime time game against the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium, at
which time the club will unveil its Super Bowl XXXIX championship banner.
Pioli's accolades don't end with his second straight Executive of the Year award.
Pioli will also be inducted into the Central Connecticut State University Alumni
Athletic Hall of Fame on May 13. Pioli was a three-year starter at defensive tackle
for the Blue Devils before graduating in 1988.
- The Patriots were
awarded three compensatory draft picks for the cumulative loss of free agents
last offseason. The Patriots lost Ted Washington, Bobby Hamilton, Damien Woody
and Mike Compton while signing only Keith Traylor. Consequently, the Pats were
awarded with extra picks in the third round (100th overall), fifth round (170th
overall) and seventh round (255th overall), giving them nine overall picks heading
into the April 23 draft.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Companies take
care of it differently. They have forced retirement. They make you retire when
you're 62 or 64 or 65 or whatever it is so they don't have to go to somebody who
has been with their company for 35 years and say, 'it's time for you to move on.'
It's structured so they can get out of it gracefully with a corporate plan that
takes care of that. That's not the way it is in the NFL." - Bill Belichick
on making difficult decisions to sever ties with older veteran players
FRANCHISE PLAYER: PK Adam Vinatieri.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Rabih Abdullah; S
Je'Rod Cherry; WR Kevin Kasper.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR David Givens; DL Jarvis Green.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: OL Gene Mruczkowski;
S Guss Scott.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: OT Tom Ashworth; LB Don Davis; OT
Brandon Gorin; DT Ethan Kelley; OG Stephen Neal; FB Patrick Pass.
ACQUIRED: WR/KR Tim Dwight; CB Duane Starks.
PLAYERS LOST: OG
Joe Andruzzi; TE Zeron Flemister; OT Adrian Klemm; CB Ty Law; QB Jim Miller; CB
Earthwind Moreland; WR David Patten; LB Roman Phifer.
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