Perhaps the most surprising dismissal of NFL final cut down day was the New England Patriots jettisoning Free Safety Brandon Meriweather, who made the last two Pro Bowls as an AFC alternate. A former 1st round draft pick who was set to earn $1.65 million this year, he had worn out his welcome in Foxboro. Despite picking off 12 passes this past three years.
First, we’ll start with Meriweather’s former home in New England.
Coach Bill “the Genius” Belichick is known to take in knuckleheads from time to time and attempt to reform them. Call Gillette Stadium a football version of a correctional facility, if you will. Of course, when you don’t conform to The Patriot Way you get shown the door. Meriweather must have really done a lot of bad stuff to be placed in the doghouse, because every other Pro Bowler on New England other than Meriweather was given the first preseason game off. Remember, Brandon got into a shooting contest (“cuz I cock my glock and pop till they all drop” as Dr. Dre would say) and that fight with Florida International during his college football days at the U.
Also, I love his phat beats and dope rhymes off the field, but I’m guessing Belichick, Robert Kraft etc….not so much.
Meriweather’s free-lancing on the field also helped to make him persona non grata and it was time to ship him out of Boston. (whoah-oh-oh) What’s surprising, is how they couldn’t get a third round pick from anyone in the NFL for a 27 year old 2-time Pro Bowler? I guess word is out about Meriweather and he must have some serious off-the-field issues we don’t know about yet? BB is known to make “examples” of players from time to time, showing that no one’s job is safe, and if you act up, you will get smacked up.
Still cutting both Meriweather and fellow former starting safety James Harrison on the same day? Releasing both players from a unit that finished 30th in pass defense last year? What is up with that?
Apparently, they’re really high on Patrick Chung, the extremely hard-working new starting free safety, and pretty positive about his back-up Sergio Brown too. James Ihedigbo backs him up, with Josh Barrett starting at strong safety (and no one else listed behind him). I can’t say I agree with these moves, because they’ll have to go after some free agent- maybe Darren Sharper? You can call their DBs the kiddie pool, because there is absolutely zero depth at the safety position.
As for Meriweather, he still needs time to learn the system before his starts for the Bears. He fell out of favor for too much free-lancing in NE, and he comes to a cover-2 system that revolves around remaining in your gaps and zone-oriented coverages. He’ll play a lot less man coverage here than he would have been expected to do with the Pats.
He won’t start this week, but expect him to overtake Major Wright for the #1 gig in short time. He’s a huge upgrade over Chris Conte and Craig Steltz when it comes to DBs coming off the bench in nickel situations. He’s also a ball hawk with great ball skills. A ferocious hitter, he may be a little too ferocious for the new NFL rules changes. This could also explain whey he was cut- the league is trying to eliminate Chuck Cecil style hard-hitting safeties who leave their feet and make impact like a guided missile. Meriweather’s ability to not get air-born and make his tackles while staying grounded are not exactly his strengths.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports