Sunday, August 14, 2011

Could the Patriots Actually Cut Ochocinco? Or Is this One of Belichick's Mind Games?

Bill Belichick is known for many things: master defensive strategist, risk-taker with his roster (or seemingly apparent risk-taker), and master motivator.  So it was (and wasn't) a surprise this past month when the New England Patriots brought two new controversial players onto the team.

First, he signed former Washington Redskins disappointment and former NFL All-Pro Defensive Lineman Albert Haynesworth.  Then he traded for Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson from Cincinnati.

However, neither player has been lighting it up on the practice field so far, and now rumors are surfacing that the Patriots might cut one or both players.  Albert Haynesworth getting cut wouldn't be that big of a surprise, but cutting Ochocinco would.

Considering that Belichick is a master motivator, it wouldn't surprise me if he simply leaked the idea of the cuts to motivate the pair, as well as the rest of his team by showing that anyone is vulnerable.

Some are saying that the players are expendable after restructuring their contracts this year to minimize cap impact.  Haynesworth is only getting paid $1.5 million this year (outside of incentives; there are no bonuses), and Ochocinco is being paid a salary of $1 million in 2011 (he did get a signing bonus of $5.5 million).  The bonus won't count against the cap.

I believe that the very fact that both players are costing the Patriots so little money is reason enough to keep them on board, barring any off-the-field issues.  Both contracts are due to go up in 2012, but the Patriots could either restructure again, or trade/cut them.

But that's 2012, and that's far in the future in the NFL.  Both players upsides this season would far outpace their salaries, which is exactly what Belichick wants.

Don't believe that they could get cut. The Patriots look like they're loading up for another title run, and both players should be key contributors once they adjust to the Patriots "way".

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