When the New England Patriots decided that to upgrade their linebacker group they focused on adding talent through the Draft rather than via free agency. The Patriots drafted added Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes On Monday, New England released veteran LB Adalius Thomas, the team’s high profile free agent acquisition from three seasons ago.
The immediate belief was the Thomas would re-join his former coach, Rex Ryan, with the New York Jets. Although that hasn’t happened yet, it could still happen. The Miami Dolphins, another AFC East team, have expressed interest in the former Patriot according to reports. Unfortunately for Thomas, neither AFC East team is willing to throw money at him the way New England did in 2007 – 5 years $35 million with $20 million guaranteed.
Thomas’s departure from Foxboro was expected. He had a falling out with the team in 2009 that led to the release. Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick told WEEI on Monday that the team wanted to go another direction and it was time to part ways.
“After the Draft we talked about the personnel, and looked at the roster and made that decision to move on with the players that we have,” Belichick said. ”I think he as a good football player – had a heck of a year for us in ’07. At this point in time we just felt like that was the direction we were going to go in (releasing Thomas).
Thomas, was part of the housekeeping that became necessary when the team was unable to generate the type of consistent pressure the unit had been known for during their Super Bowl runs. Thomas’ production had fallen off significantly since 2007 – the year Belichick mentioned. Though some say it wasn’t’ just his on field performance. Thomas’ locker room presence was reportedly one of the reasons for the split factor. His public display of displeasure over his role in the defense was undoubtedly a contributing factor.
The Dolphins and the Jets appear interested in Thomas, but haven’t rushed to make an offer. Miami may have lost former edge rusher Jason Taylor to the Jets via free agency, and Joey Porter to the Cardinals, but they did acquire a pair of linebackers via the Draft. Koa Misi, a 6-foot-3, 251-pound pass rusher from Utah is expected to move to outside backer while A.J. Edds - selected with the team's fourth round pick – should play inside. The Edds pick was New England’s before they traded it to Dallas who then traded it to Miami.
New York could be looking to reunite Ryan and Thomas, but not at the moment. According to reports, the team is downplaying the notion of adding the former Patriot, though Ryan would love to add another former New Englander. Signing Thomas would give New York yet another option at linebacker, plus Ryan could trot Thomas out as team captain twice a year just to get under Belichick’s skin.
For now, Thomas remains a free agent, and the Patriots look to see what they have with their two rookies as minicamp is set to open Friday in Foxboro.
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