It didn’t seem like it was a certainty to many observers, myself included, but Kevin Faulk never had a doubt that he would be returning to the Patriots this season. Today, the team officially announced that they re-signed the 13-year veteran running back, as well as Sammy Morris. They also announced that guard Logan Mankins signed his franchise tender. I’d like to say that these three cannot practice until Aug. 4, the official start of the new league year, but I also thought that about Chad Ochocinco and there he was practicing yesterday afternoon.
Faulk said that Bill Belichick called him before the lockout began and told Faulk that he wanted him to return for 2011. That was all the assurance Faulk needed, and his trust was rewarded with the new deal announced today. With the influx of young talent to the running back position, what does Faulk bring to the Patriots?
Faulk’s biggest asset to the team will be his leadership in the locker room and ability to mentor young running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. He still has the ability to fill his third-down back role, at least I think he does coming off an ACL injury that forced him to miss most of last season, but there are others on the roster that can do that now.
Chad Ochocinco and, more importantly, Albert Haynesworth are going to need some veteran direction to the Patriot Way in the locker room, and Faulk is the most senior member of the team, pre-dating Bill Belichick’s arrival in New England in 2000. Keeping Faulk may force a tough cut at another position come roster cut-down day, but Faulk’s value goes far beyond the football field, so I foresee him sticking with the team.
Unless he gets cut and returns as an assistant coach…:)