The saga of Laurence Maroney in New England has officially ended. The Patriots traded the up-and-down running back and a 6th round pick to the Denver Broncos for a 4th round pick. The trade is not as surprising as one might initially think. I speculated that Maroney would be traded during the preseason, but if he were to be traded, I anticipated it to be around the roster cut-down time. The timing of the trade is the surprising part. Maroney was out for Sunday’s game against the Bengals with a thigh injury, but there was no indication that a trade was imminent. Maroney’s ride in New England was certainly a roller coaster.
Maroney was often injured, but he showed flashes of the talent that made the Patriots draft him in the first round. In between those flashes of talent were games and runs that made you scratch your head. Sometimes Maroney would run hard and throw a nice stiff arm, and other times he would dance around behind the line of scrimmage and get hit for a loss. Last season was the best of his career, and he appeared to finally be catching on. Then he caught a case of fumblitis, none bigger than a fumble at the goal line against the Colts that would have been a game-sealing touchdown. He then got into Bill Belichick’s doghouse and never seemed to be able to crawl out. During the preseason, he saw some action in the first game and then we didn’t see him again until the second half of the final preseason game.
Maroney’s jettison from New England appears to be a numbers game as much as the disappointment that he never fulfilled his potential. Fred Taylor won the starting job and did a phenomenal job Sunday. Sammy Morris is an effective short-yardage runner, can block as a fullback, and can play special teams. Kevin Faulk is the Patriots’ third-down back, and one of the best in football. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has shown growth since he arrived in New England and ran effectively during the preseason and during Sunday’s opener. BJGE also plays special teams, adding to his value. That leaves Maroney on the outside looking in, and in the last year of his rookie contract, the Patriots decided to get some value for him as opposed to just losing him to free agency after the season.
That leaves an open spot on the roster. I think the most obvious move would be bringing back OLB Marques Murrell, who was cut earlier in the week to make room for the activation of G/T Quinn Ojinnaka, who was coming off a one-game suspension. Without Murrell, the Pats only have three outside linebackers on the roster.
Lastly, I want to wish Laurence Maroney the best of luck in Denver. He always seemed like a nice enough guy and was certainly a funny guy during his interviews. I hope he can put it together in Denver (just not when they play New England).