New England Patriots running back and projected return specialist Jeff Demps is both a football and track star, and he said last month that he would like to continue to do both. Most people believed that it wouldn’t sit too well with Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization, because the Pats usually don’t like players whose sole focus isn’t football. While that likely hurt his standing with the team, it wasn’t viewed as a deal-breaker. The interest the Patriots showed in Josh Cribbs before signing a more established RB and return specialist in top returner Leon Washington (formerly of the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets) definitely cast his future in doubt.
Now, it seems like it is extremely unlikely for Jeff Demps to remain with the New England Patriots after delivering this nugget on a radio interview. In an interview with Sports Talk Florida he said this when asked what he would tell Belichick, “Listen coach, I want to do both, but in order for me to get to where I want to be on the track and field side, it’ll take a full year of preparation. And after the (track) season, if you guys are willing to let me come back, you know, probably midseason, and work out and train and get ready for the season, I’ll be able to do that. If not, then I guess I’ll just focus on running.”
Demps is no longer viewing football and track as equals; he is instead prioritizing track over football. Based on what he said in that interview, it sounds like the Patriots won’t be keeping Demps next season. They already sat him out last season on the injured reserve, presumably to develop the raw speedster. Now he wants another year off for track? I highly doubt the Patriots are going to waste a year on somebody who already sat out the first year of his contract. With no more guaranteed money to be paid, the Patriots will likely swallow their pride after taking a jump on Demps and release him.
Expect a former Florida State Seminoles standout to take over for a former Florida Gators standout in that role on the Patriots. While Demps is younger, that’s the only advantage (other than speed and upside) that he holds over Washington, who has experience, is also fast, is a known commodity, and has proved he can help out on offense. We can’t say the same for Demps, and we know for a fact that Washington is focused on the game. It doesn’t sound like Demps is. I wish him the best in his track career or wherever else he goes if he is released by the Patriots, but there is a very slim chance that he stick around- time will tell what Belichick has planned. But at this juncture, I can’t envision him staying.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.