Adalius Thomas spent much of the 2009 season in Bill Belichick’s doghouse, but to him, it felt more like a kindergarten classroom.
Regardless, the two may consider parting ways during the offseason.
Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowler, has two years and $19.8 million remaining on the five-year contract he signed with the Patriots before the 2007 season. According to the Boston Herald, if the Pats decide to cut the 32-year-old outside linebacker, they will suffer an $8.8 million cap hit for 2010, which may not be a serious consideration if it’s an uncapped season.
Apart from falling out of favor with Belichick for tardiness, Thomas also endured a mediocre campaign on the field in 2009, amassing just 34 tackles and three sacks over 14 games. Thomas did not force a fumble or interception and logged just a pair of passes defensed.
He had five sacks and four passes defensed the previous year, but also failed to force a turnover in nine games before being sidelined with an arm injury.
For a player talented enough to convince Belichick to “back up the Brinks truck” to pay him, Thomas’ recent performance in New England has been decidedly sub-par. Still, there will be no shortage of suitors for his services if the Patriots decide he has no role on their 2010 defensive unit.
One option could be for Thomas to follow former Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees to Baltimore, where Thomas began his career as a sixth-round draft pick in 2000. Thomas won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2001 and enjoyed his best statistical seasons in the purple and black from 2004-2006. With Pees now coaching the linebackers on coordinator Greg Mattison’s swarming defense, the veteran would have the opportunity to rebound under a familiar scheme.
The NFL’s 2010 free-agent class is not lacking in outside linebacker talent, so Thomas will have to prove that he is in top physical shape and mentally focused on returning to his days as an elite performer. If he can convince either the Patriots or another team of that, another payday could be in store.