Patriots Filling Holes
The New England Patriots are back doing what they do best, filling holes in the roster with unexpected names. The latest addition to the roster is OL Quinn Ojinnaka who was acquired via trade with the Atlanta Falcons according to our own FOXSports.com’s Adam Caplan.
Per Caplan, a source indicated that the Falcons have agreed to send Ojinnaka to New England via trade on Sunday The report also indicated that compensation for the trade is unknown at the present time.
Seeing the Patriots go out to make a trade for another lineman isn’t a surprise. Neither is it a coincidence that the team opted to partner with former New England Patriots exec Thomas Dimitroff, who joined the Falcons to be their GM in January of 2008.
After joint practice sessions, and a preseason game that gave Belichick the opportunity to spent time in Dimitroff’s company, the Patriots reportedly pulled off a deal to secure another versatile body for the offensive line.
|Falcons OL Quinn Ojinnaka
Interestingly enough, the Patriots have kept an eye on Ojinnaka since his days at Syracuse. When entering the Draft as a rookie in 2006, Ojinnaka told PatriotsInsider.com that the Patriots worked him out at his Pro Day, and met twice with him at the NFL Combine. One of those meetings Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was present. Dimitroff was part of the Patriots Draft war room staff at the time. The Falcons jumped in to grab Ojinnaka in the sixth round that year.
Knowing that the Patriots had an interest in Ojinnaka during the Draft, and seeing their need for offensive linemen who can fit their system, Dimitroff made the match. Certainly Mankins’ holdout and Kaczur’s injury played significant parts in the motivation for a deal, but the Patriots still had extra linemen on the roster who could fill in.
Likely the trade isn’t a sign of what Ojinnaka can do, but rather that the players in backup roles are not showing what the team wants. With 16 linemen on the current roster, not including Mankins – who has yet to sign his tender – the team already has nearly a half-dozen players who won’t be part of the active roster in a couple weeks. The Patriots also selected a pair of linemen in this year’s Draft; Ted Larsen (6th round) and Thomas Welch (7th round). Neither appear ready to step up to the plate as starters.
With the team confirming the Ojinnaka trade on Monday, the Patriots now have another player who has seen action at both the guard and tackle positions. Ojinnaka has appeared in 39 games over four seasons, with 12 starts for the Falcons. He became expendable when the Falcons selected offensive linemen in the third and fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
The biggest challenge for Ojinnaka comes not from the competitors on the field, but from the result of his actions off of it. Ojinnaka was involved in a domestic dispute that landed him in hot water with not only his family, but the league. He has been suspended for the season opener as a result of the disturbance, which stems from a fight with his wife in May. The Krafts (owners of the team) are well known for not tolerating bad behavior. If Ojinnaka is going to stick around, he’s going to have to meet expectations both on and off the field.
Ojinaka News Updates
Patriots 2010 Roster
Jon Scott has covered the NFL the past ten seasons. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Jon's articles have appeared on the pages of The OBR Magazine, Warpaint Illustrated, TFY Draft Preview, Scout.com and FoxSports.com's Fantasy Guides. He has also covered the league for TheInsiders, Scout.com, CSNNE.com and FOXSports.com You can follow Jon via twitter @JScottNFL.