Former NFL linebacker Bart Scott was left scratching his head when the New England Patriots dealt Chandler Jones over the offseason and then shipped out Jamie Collins just before the trade deadline.
Perhaps neither deal should have been all that surprising, given Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s prior willingness to trade popular impact players, but Scott can’t help but think about the message that strategy sends to the team.
“Listen, if I’m a young player out there, I’m not going to play injured. I’m not going to play if I need surgery because I know that (Belichick) doesn’t value me. I know that he’ll ship me out like anybody else,” Scott said this week on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” per WEEI.com. “If you’re not a part of that core four, core five, which is pretty much Patrick Chung, (Tom) Brady, (Rob Gronkowski), (Rob) Ninkovich and (Devin) McCourty, you can be traded tomorrow. So I’m not going to go out and put my career and my season on the line because I know he’ll get rid of me. He doesn’t value me. I’m expendable.
“There was no reason to get rid of Jamie Collins,” Scott added. “We talk about Jamie Collins being one of the best, most athletic, talented players on the team, in the NFL. He (Belichick) didn’t value him. So if I’m a young player, I’m not risking myself and my body for Bill Belichick because he doesn’t care.”
Putting the team before individual players certainly is common in Foxboro. One could argue it’s part of what makes the Patriots such a successful organization, therefore rendering Scott’s argument invalid.
But there are times, like with any sports franchise, when certain personnel decisions backfire. And with the Patriots’ defense struggling Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks in New England’s first game since trading Collins, it’s reasonable to wonder if this will be one of those instances.
“I think you saw a vulnerable defense,” said Scott, who played for the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets — two of the Patriots’ AFC rivals. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Did Bill Belichick outsmart himself letting go of Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones?’ I think we all agree at this table that these are elite players, and we’ve seen him do this before with Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour.
“Sometimes coaches think it’s more about themselves than it is actually about the players. Great players make great coaches, right? And sometimes they outsmart themselves.”
Of course, this is where we should remind everyone that the Patriots have won four Super Bowl titles under Belichick.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images