The New England Patriots emerged as the winners of the Jeff Demps sweepstakes in August, as the coveted Florida Gators speedster received a rather significant contract for an undrafted free agent. Likely the Patriots kick and punt returner in 2013, Demps went undrafted since he was participating in the Olympics in track.
The track star would like to continue participating in that sport, and he notified the Patriots of his intentions to keep running track. Per Ian Rappoport, ”Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps has informed the Pats he’s returning to track. But… Wants to play 2 sports.”
Jeff Demps was placed on the injured reserve last season, and I guess the Patriots intent was to “groom” him for later seasons when he was needed more. Demps signed a three-year deal with $211,000 in guaranteed money, which is, again, a large sum of money for a UDFA.
Now here is what his agent, Daniel Rose, told Rappoport, ”Jeff has no intention of leaving football. He just loves track and wants to do both.”
Now the fact that Demps wants to continue participating in both sports seems at odds with what Bill Belichick is looking for from his players, which is 100% dedication to football. The news that Demps wants to continue playing track could make him expendable to the Patriots, because all his guaranteed money has been paid out and the Pats might not be willing to allow a returner to do this. The Pats usually expect players to do more than just one specific thing (like returns), and Demps is now a potential cut for this team.
Argument A- Why We Should Let Demps Do This
Jeff Demps should be allowed to pursue his passion of running track, and that won’t affect his ability to perform on the football field. In fact, it will keep him more conditioned, and the fact that people are acting like “passion” towards one sport in particular is merely quantifiable is an injustice to Demps. He should be allowed to pursue whatever he wants, even if it means it is at odds with Belichick’s philosophies. Demps could very well be the fastest player in the NFL next season, and the Patriots sorely need an impact returner. He can also help on offense, and he will only have a limited role on the team anyway. The rest of his contract is relatively cheap, and the Patriots should at least give him a chance to show that it can work before cutting him.
The team made a significant investment in him in August, and they need to at least let him see the field and prove himself. He has potentially game-changing talent, and it would be a shame to waste it on this disagreement. It isn’t like two-sport stars haven’t worked in the past, either. And hey, it’s only track, right?
Argument B- Get Rid of Demps
The Patriots need to show a message to this guy and potential Patriots in the future; if you aren’t 100% dedicated to this team and this sport, then we don’t want you. The Pats have already paid this guy all of his guaranteed money, and Demps has to show full dedication in order to get the Pats playbook down and contribute as a running back. The Pats playbook isn’t easy to understand, and Demps will have to show his value as something other than a return in order to make a roster spot. In order to do this, full dedication is needed.
Danny Woodhead‘s value just increased, because the addition of Demps made his value to the team decrease a little since Demps- and Shane Vereen- can do some of the things Woodhead can. But Woodhead is better than those guys, will come at an affordable price tag, and we all love Woodhead. Since Demps isn’t focused on football and might not even be that good anyway, it’s best to just cut our losses and roll with Woodhead and Vereen again as the explosive RBs.
Which side to you agree with? Or do you have a different take? Tell us in the comments.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.