It was no secret that the New England Patriots were looking to trade Jeff Demps and that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted to deal enigmatic running back LeGarrette Blount, but the question was whether or not either team would be able to get anything out of either one of the RBs. Buddies Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano answered that question, as the Patriots traded a seventh-round pick and Jeff Demps to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. There is no shortage of opinions on this deal, but I think both sides came out winners in this.
Listen, the Patriots were never going to keep Demps. Even though Demps said he wants to play both football and track equally, indications are that Demps is prioritizing track- it’s his first love. There is nothing wrong with that in the eyes of several teams, and this was reflected in a statement by Demps’s agent. However, the Patriots feel differently, and they operate differently as an organization. Belichick holds steadfast to the principle that if you don’t want to be here, then you shouldn’t be here. The Pats didn’t want to release Demps and had discussions about trading him, but it was tough to envision a team pulling the trigger and trading for Demps.
The Pats were a part of the Jeff Demps sweepstakes back in August, and they emerged as the victors over heavy interest from the Buccaneers. Demps received a rich contract for an undrafted free agent, and the Pats showed that they were willing to invest in Demps by placing him on the injured reserve for his first season. All the guaranteed money had already been paid out after that first season, and the Pats weren’t just going to give up on Demps. However, I’m sure they were disappointed by Demps’s lack of a full commitment to football, and it just sounds like he likes track more. The Pats showed interest in overrated return specialist Josh Cribbs, before finally wisely signing a known commodity in Leon Washington, who is one of the best return specialists in the game. Unlike Cribbs, Washington can make an impact outside of special teams on offense. Unlike Demps, we know Washington can take the time to learn the playbook, is a known commodity with experience, can play on offense, and is committed to football.
So overall, I’m happy with how things have ended out on that front. Demps is a great guy, and he’s going to get his chance to make an impact with the Buccaneers. In a post just three days ago, I raised the possibility of the Buccaneers acquiring Demps and feel a small sense of pride in hinting at that. But I thought this would be a case of the Patriots dealing Demps for a seventh-rounder, as opposed to the Pats flipping Demps and a pick to the Bucs for Blount.
Let me get this out of the way first, the seventh-round pick means nothing- absolutely nothing. The Patriots already had two seventh-rounders to worth with beside the one they traded to the Buccaneers, and they are so active on the undrafted free agent wire (look at all the signings like Cory Grissom and T.J. Moe that they have made thus far) that the pick is almost irrelevant, especially to a team like the Patriots.
Blount is a frustrating player, but if anyone can get Blount back on track, then it is the New England Patriots. He clearly fell out of favor in Tampa Bay, and I think that has more to do with the Bucs than Blount. The Bucs clearly don’t like Blount, and they can’t be blamed for that given the success Doug Martin had as a rookie.
I hate how people knock Blount for being one-dimensional as a runner, because that’s simply not true. Blount is an awful pass blocker who can’t make an impact as a pass-catcher, but Blount is a great pure rusher. He is agile, powerful, and fast, and he showed it early on in his career with the Bucs. He has looked poor lately, but it’s easy to forget that he was dynamic in 2010 with over 1,000 rushing yards and an average of five yards per carry.
So Blount has plenty of upside, and the Pats would actually get a good deal off if they can get everything out of Blount. Saying that the Pats already have depth at RB is a poor point to make, because Demps was also a running back. However, I do get the argument that Demps would bring more to the table outside of rushing than Blount, but there is also the matter of Demps- despite his blazing speed- likely not being a good pure rusher. I like this deal, because the Pats and Bucs both flipped backs they didn’t want to keep for backs they could develop and who have upside with their new teams. Maybe all Blount need is a change of scenery, and we’ll see if Belichick can work some sense into him.
I expect Blount to slot in as the No. 3 back behind Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, and he has a shot at getting more carries than Vereen if he can bounce back. This deal is difficult to analyze, but I think it’s a good one overall. If I had to grade it, then I would give it a solid “B”.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.