We’ve all heard the right-on clichés about how we should do things better, and we should end things we don’t like with a bit of dignity. That’s great if you’re a celebrity or a politician, but what about the rest of us? Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a hobby, or a TV show, it’s hard to walk away from something we’ve fallen in love with.
On the morning of my departure for the States, the weather turned to the point where it was overcast and pouring rain. It could have been so much worse, but I was glad I decided to go home the night before to apply the finishing touches to my suitcase. As I was getting ready to leave, I found a letter tucked inside my mirror. It was written by my friend to me, and it was the sweetest, most thoughtful letter I have ever received.
The Patriots are in need of a new starting quarterback. With Tom Brady turning 40 this year, it’s time for New England to start thinking about the future. Enter Jimmy Garoppolo.
Bill Belichick has a track record of giving guys a chance to resurrect their careers. While some of his reclamation efforts failed, like as Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, there’s no denying that Belichick’s ability to turn cheap commodities into important players has benefited the New England Patriots.
Once again, the architect of the NFL’s most successful dynasty has purchased a player with tremendous potential at a bargain price. And, with a long-serving Patriots player facing an uncertain future in Foxborough, Belichick may have discovered the ideal replacement at a bargain price.
Bill Belichick’s newest reclamation effort is Shaun Wade.
Belichick has taken chances on great players who needed a change of scenery from the beginning of the Patriots’ dynasty. He’s shown no reluctance to spend money in reclamation projects, from signing Corey Dillon to dealing for Randy Moss to giving Cam Newton a shot to revive his career. Plus, via undrafted free agency, he’s discovered hidden gems like Malcolm Butler, Jonathan Jones, and J.C. Jackson.
Belichick, predictably, just added another defensive back who may be a long-term staple in Foxborough.
Shaun Wade was acquired from the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 26 in exchange for a 2022 seventh-round selection and a 2023 fifth-round pick. Since joining the AFC North club as a fifth-round selection in April, the 22-year-transfer old’s came as a bit of a surprise. The Ravens, however, didn’t have enough space on their roster to accommodate the outstanding rookie out of Ohio State due to their depth at cornerback.
Wade was a predicted top-32 pick entering the 2020 season. Sadly for the Florida native, his last season with the Buckeyes did not go as planned. He struggled hard in his new position on the perimeter after excelling as a slot corner from 2018-19. As a consequence, the former five-star recruit’s draft value plummeted significantly.
Despite being moved in the middle of his first NFL training camp, Wade seems to have a promising future. After all, Belichick’s newest redevelopment project has the potential to ultimately replace one of New England’s most successful and revered players.
The former Ohio State standout may be the ideal successor for Devin McCourty, who has been with the Patriots for a long period.
The contract of Devin McCourty is intriguing. It’s a five-year, $53 million contract, but it expires on the last day of the 2021 league season. It’s a two-year, $23 million deal, as promised. The cap impacts were spaced out across the last three years.
March 19, 2020 — Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe)
Some believed that Wade might be an insurance policy for Stephon Gilmore after the Patriots acquired him. That shouldn’t have come as a surprise given his almost similar physique to the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Could Belichick have a strategy for the 6-foot-1, 191-pound defensive back that includes him taking over for another star in the secondary?
Don’t throw out the possibility just yet.
Devin McCourty, like Wade, began his career as a cornerback. However, despite making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, the 2010 first-round pick couldn’t repeat his performance. McCourty was shifted to free safety by Belichick in 2013, and he immediately established himself as a dependable tackler, solid coverage player, and respected locker room leader.
Is it possible for Wade to follow in his footsteps?
Ironically, coming out of college, both defensive backs had remarkably identical athletic testing results. McCourty ran a 4.48 40-yard sprint, jumped 36 inches vertically, and had a 10-foot-6-inch broad jump. Wade ran a 4.46 in the 40, jumped 37.5 inches in the vertical leap, and ended three inches behind his new partner in the broad jump.
The Patriots must find a replacement for McCourty, who is approaching the last year of his contract. Wade’s height, quickness, and toughness give him a strong candidate to succeed one of the team’s longest-serving players. And, given that Belichick has previously had success converting a corner into a safety, why not try it again?
Don’t be shocked if the secondary in New England looks quite different in 2022.
Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, has a track record of developing undervalued guys into important contributors. | Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Although Wade’s signing may not pay off right away, don’t be surprised if he ends up playing a key role for the Patriots in the future.
In fact, in 2022, spectators can expect the secondary to look quite different.
McCourty’s future is uncertain, and given his age — he turned 34 on Aug. 13 — it seems probable that Belichick will want to replace him with someone younger and less expensive. The three-time Super Bowl winner may retire or continue his career somewhere after a decade of service as a major leader on and off the field.
Meanwhile, the Patriots’ top two cornerbacks may change jerseys next season. Both Gilmore and J.C. Jackson are expected to be free agents at the end of the season, and it’s uncertain if either will stay in New England for the long haul.
So, although Bill Belichick should be reasonably secure with his secondary’s present condition (apart from Gilmore beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list), he will have to make some difficult choices next spring that may dramatically change the Patriots’ defense’s future.
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Bill Belichick’s Biggest Defensive Addition Didn’t Cost Him a Dime This Offseason Despite Spending $56 Million on Pro Bowl Pass Rusher Matthew Judon
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