Patriots’ linebacker Adalius Thomas recently conducted his youth football camp down in Mississippi and he sat down for an interview with the Boston Globe’s Shalize Manza-Young. During the interview, he discussed the media and the fans’ view of him being a malcontent due to the events of last season. If you recall, Thomas was one of the players sent home for being late to a team meeting the day of a winter storm, and was benched for a game. But according to Thomas, the rift between the team and himself began after he injured his forearm in 2008. He fills the team did not handle his rehab properly, and his forearm still bothers him. He is going to try and get it fixed with his own people in about a month. He then recounts that last summer, he was told that he’s not a good pass rusher and that his role on the team would be changing. Prior to breaking his forearm, he had 5 sacks in 10 games in 2008.
“I look at it like this: There are only six [active] outside linebackers with 50-plus sacks. I’m one of them,” Thomas said. “To say after the injury that, ‘OK, you’re not a good enough pass rusher,’ I just can’t . . . I can’t buy that. I’m not saying I’m the best in the world or anything like that, but . . .’’
As you can see, before the season even started, things did not seem well between Adalius Thomas and the New England Patriots. Then came that infamous day.
When he was benched for a Week 6 game against Tennessee after having a “bad game” against Denver, that’s when things really turned sour for him.
“The thing for me is, I got a game ball Atlanta week [in Game 3]. So, that’s what was so mind-boggling. You get a game ball two weeks before, you have a bad game against Denver, and then you get benched the next game. That’s really that’s interesting, for a lack of words. Because I know a lot of people that had more than one bad game. It was shocking. That was like a turn.’’
With Thomas’ contract paying him $4.9 million this season, trading him is going to be extremely difficult. If the Patriots do not want to move forward with Thomas, they will probably have to release him. That possibility started another controversy, when the Jets’ Bart Scott, Thomas’ former teammate in Baltimore, said that Thomas told him he wanted to play for the Jets. Adalius tried to put somewhat of a kibosh on that rumor.
“I got an email that I was getting killed on one of the radio stations up there [in Boston] about something Bart Scott said. He plays for the Jets. I played with Bart. Did we talk about it? Yeah. But that’s not how the conversation went. But I don’t think he had time on a TV interview to say, ‘This was said and this was said…’
“Everyone has me going to the Jets because of Rex Ryan,” Thomas continued. “I also played for (Bengals head coach) Marvin Lewis, (49ers head coach) Mike Singletary, (Jacksonville head coach) Jack Del Rio, (Miami defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan. So why don’t they ever include those people in the conversation, those teams? Because that doesn’t sell.”
It’s interesting that Adalius mentions Mike Nolan. Nolan tried to sign Thomas in 2007 when he was head coach of the 49ers. If Thomas is released, it’s possible that he could sign with a team in the AFC East, only it could be Miami instead of New York. But would he stay in New England? Will he stay in New England?
“I wish I really knew. And that’s the honest-to-God truth,’’ Adalius said. “The only person that knows that would be Bill. I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen, what their plans are, so it’s kind of uncertain. It’s uncomfortable too, because you don’t really know where you’re going to be. I’ve had a great time — if this is the end, I’ve enjoyed myself. The fans have been great, it was fun playing there. If it’s not, I’m fine with coming back.’’
So Thomas would welcome staying with the Patriots. What is uncertain is whether New England will have him back. I’m a bit conflicted on this situation. Adalius Thomas certainly has not lived up to his lofty contract. However, the bad blood between him and the team seems to be a mix of misunderstandings and poor decisions by both parties (read the full Globe article for more events). Could Belichick have adjusted schemes to better suit what Thomas can do? Did he, and Thomas didn’t fulfill his end? There’s probably more to the story here, but it would seem to be a waste to simply release him, especially with there being such a lack of depth at OLB. Adalius is not at voluntary workouts but will show up for mandatory mini-camp if he is still with the team. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and if there is any movement over the NFL Draft.