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Patriots Reclamation Projects: A History

Rob Joyce
September 11, 2019 - 2:29 pm
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As if New England’s 33-3 beatdown of Pittsburgh on the night in which the team’s sixth Super Bowl banner was unveiled, the Patriots weren’t even at full capacity in Week 1. The consensus is that starting on Sunday the Pats will unleash their newest offensive weapon in Antonio Brown (poor Miami).

After forcing his way out of Pittsburgh and having a career’s worth of drama in Oakland in a span of about six weeks, New England signed the All-Pro wide receiver to a one-year deal just hours after Brown was released by the Raiders. It’s far from the first time the Patriots have taken on someone with a lot of baggage. Sometimes it doesn’t work and both parties move on. Other times, it leads to an awful lot of wins.

With questions abound as to how AB will fit in, here’s how some past Patriot reclamation projects have worked out in the Brady-Belichick era:

The Good

Randy Moss:

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

After a lackluster 2006 with the Raiders (42 receptions, 553 yards, three touchdowns) and fed up with Oakland, both the team and Moss wanted a parting of ways. Enter New England, for the price of a fourth-round draft pick and an agreement to restructure Moss’s contract. The result was one of the best seasons ever by a wide receiver in 2007: 98 catches for 1,493 yards and a record-setting 23 touchdowns as the Pats went 18-1. He had two more 1,000-yard seasons in ’08 and ’09 before being traded early in the 2010 season.

Darrelle Revis:

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The future Hall of Famer didn’t fit into Tampa Bay’s system under Lovie Smith, and after attempts to trade the cornerback went nowhere he was granted his outright release in 2014. A few hours later he was a Patriot, signing a one-year, $12-million deal. Though he only spent a year in New England, he helped lead the Pats’ defense on a Super Bowl run that saw opponents complete one pass against his man in total between the AFC title game and Super Bowl. The next year he signed a big contract with the Jets and struggled.

Aqib Talib:

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

A good player with the Buccaneers from the time he was drafted in 2008, things went sideways in Tampa after a 2012 suspension for Adderall. Later that same season, he was shipped to the Pats along with a seventh-round pick at the cost of a fourth-rounder. Naturally, in 2013 he was named to his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams before moving on to Denver the next season.

The Bad

Chad Johnson:

(Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

On the downside of his career, the Pats took a flier on the 33-year-old Johnson, coming of an 831-yard season with the Bengals in 2010. Traded from Cincinnati for a fifth- and sixth-round pick, Johnson caught just 15 passes all year, and though New England made it to the Super Bowl, he only grabbed one pass in the loss to the Giants before being released.

Albert Haynesworth:

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The defensive lineman signed a seven-year, $100-million deal in Washington in 2009, and by the end of the 2010 season he and the organization soured on one another to the point where a change was needed. New England took a chance and dealt a fifth-round pick for the two-time All-Pro, but it didn’t work. He was on the team less than four months, got into an altercation with an assistant and was released by November having made three tackles in six games.

The TBD

Josh Gordon:

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Gordon led the league in receiving in 2013 with 1,646 yards in only 14 games, but he had already served the first of his multiple suspensions for substance abuse. In various states of suspension by the NFL between 2014 and 2018 in which he only played 11 games for Cleveland, he was dealt to New England early last season along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a fifth-rounder. He played 11 games with the Pats last year, catching 40 passes for 720 yards and three scores before stepping away in December to focus on his off-field problems.

He’s back for 2019, and if Week 1 was any indication (73 yards and a touchdown) it could pay major dividends.