The highest-priced free agent the Patriots ever signed was released by the team today. Linebacker Adalius Thomas’ three-year run with the team is over and he is now free to join another team. The official announcement was a short one:
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots released LB Adalius Thomas today.
Thomas, 6-2, 270 pounds, originally signed with New England as an unrestricted free agent on March 3, 2007. Last season, he played in 14 games with 11 starts and finished with 31 total tackles, three sacks and two passes defensed. Thomas has played in 135 NFL games and has accumulated 584 tackles, seven interceptions, 17 forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and 79 special teams tackles.
“After the draft, we talked about the personnel and looked at our roster and so forth, and we made that decision to move on with the players that we have. He was a good football player, he came in and had a heck of a year for us in ’07. Again, at this point in time, we felt like this was the direction we had to go on.”
It will be interesting to see if Thomas follows the path of least resistance that Belichick followed when he eventually speaks to the media. Despite already having a reputation of being outspoken, not actually being on the team anymore may propel him to speak more of his mind. I remember back in 2007, his first season with the Pats, when he was handing out “Humble Pie” shirts to the guys in the locker room. It seemed like the start of a beautiful relationship between him and the team. Things then started to go south after he was injured in 2008 and never seemed to get better. Both sides are likely to blame in this matter for not communicating properly. However, what can’t be disputed is that Adalius never really lived up to his big contract. I wonder if he had signed a smaller deal if perhaps he would be given more time because he would have lowered expectations from the fans and media.
What’s next for Adalius Thomas? He hadn’t received any offers at the time I wrote this article but I’m 100% sure he will hook up with a new team shortly. It may even be in the AFC East, where former coordinators he played under in Baltimore Rex Ryan and Mike Nolan, occupy rival teams. He could be returning to Foxborough with a chip on his shoulder to show his former team that they did not use him properly and made a mistake in releasing him.
Thomas’ release doesn’t leave the linebacker corps looking any prettier. Only two players were drafted to play linebacker, and only one (Jermain Cunningham) projects to play OLB, the position Thomas played. Here’s the list of players from the Patriots’ official depth chart that play OLB:
- Tully Banta-Cain
- Pierre Woods
- Rob Nonkovich
- Gary Guyton (interesting that he’s listed as an OLB after playing ILB last season)
- Jermaine Cunningham
- Shawn Crable
- Marques Murrell
Not an awe-inspiring group to say the least. Perhaps a shift for Gary Guyton from inside to outside will improve the unit. Guyton has likely played inside due to lack of depth but I have always thought he was better suited for outside. He is tall and lanky and has good speed. It will be interesting to see if outside is where he officially lines up when camp begins.I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots also add a veteran free agent or two from the current flood of players being released.