When I heard the news that the New England Patriots released Kyle Love, via a statement from his agent on ESPN Boston, I was shocked and decided to step away from the keyboard. I didn’t want to write a gut-reaction piece on the release of Love, because I would have either been too critical of the Patriots for releasing him, would have incriminated them for releasing a player with diabetes, or I would have went too far in trying to justify their actions.
In this day-after piece, my goal is not to do any of these three, and I apologize in advance if it ever comes off like I am trying to do that. I just want to look at this move from every angle possible, and there is one thing I hope that we all agree on; we don’t know what the Patriots true motives are. We don’t know if they were planning on releasing Love all along, if they are concerned with Love’s weight loss and ability to overcome this like Jay Cutler (among other athletes), or if there is something else at play. Anyone who pretends like they know the Patriots motives either have to prove they have a legitimate source, or they would just be another person passing off their own opinions as fact.
Love’s release came on the heels of the Patriots decision to release Brandon Deaderick, which was actually a good decision. Deaderick played plenty towards the end of last season, but he wasn’t exactly good and was more of the problem than the solution at DT. He offered little as a pass rusher, and he was better off signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars anyway. The Patriots signed Tommy Kelly and Armond Armstead, who are both better than Deaderick and are clearly better threats to rush the passer (the most important thing for the Patriots on the interior of the defensive line).
However, the reason why the Patriots could prioritize pass rushing DTs is because of the presence of Vince Wilfork and, then, Kyle Love. Wilfork is obviously the big star and one of the best DTs in the league, but Love is a solid player in his own right and is a very good run-stopper. He is a total non-factor as a pass rusher, but Love’s run defense would have still been welcome on the Pats interior and would have helped out Kelly and Armstead out as well.
I wonder how Love’s weight loss factored into the equation for the Patriots, and I’m not willing to go to the lengths to call the Patriots classless for this release. I am also not willing to defend them and come up with other reasons for it, but I am quietly confident that the Patriots would not make a decision like this. Although he might just be keeping things bottled up, Love’s tweets following his release have all been upbeat.
Losing Love hurts, and I think this was a bad move from an X’s and O’s standpoint, because the Pats just lost a quality DT. I wonder, though, if the Patriots are interested in signing Richard Seymour or are very high on a UDFA like Cory Grissom, because those are the only justifications for this release. Diabetes will probably make Love a less effective player, but he should still be solid and would gradually get back to “normal” with continued weight management. I’m not a doctor, though, so I really can’t comment on how diabetes would affect Love. Plus, Cutler has had diabetes and still has excellent physical tools.
Moreover, though, I wish Kyle Love the very best going forward, and I am sure he will be quickly snapped up by another team willing to work with him and wiling to bring on a run-stopping DT. Love would constitute an upgrade for several NFL teams, and I hope he has an awesome 2013 season. He seems like a classy guy, and he is a player almost every Patriots fan really likes. I wish the best to Love, and I want to see what the Patriots do at the position going forward, who develops, and if any news breaks out on why Love was released.
This is a pretty controversial subject, so I would love for you guys to comment on it. However, keep things civil in the comments section (you guys usually do a great job of that), and I am honestly most interested in hearing answers to the question, “Now what should the Patriots do at the DT position?”
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.