The New England Patriots will most likely let strong safety Patrick Chung sign elsewhere this offseason, and the injury-prone impending free agent is not expected to have a vast market. The reason why the Patriots seem willing to let Chung go despite a less than certain outlook at safety is because of health issues.
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Chung’s best asset might also be his biggest flaw, and that is his aggressive play and hard-hitting. The former Oregon Ducks star is one of the best hitting safeties in the NFL, and Chung plays the run extremely well for the safety position. Although he is a liability in deep coverage, Chung is actually about average covering intermediate routes, but covering obviously isn’t his forte.
I honestly think that the Patriots main reason for likely letting Chung walk isn’t because of poor play, and I don’t even think he fell out of favor with the staff anyway. I think the Pats are willing to let Chung go, because his injuries have made him unreliable. In fact, there might be no way for him to avoid constantly injured, because the reckless abandon with which he throws his body around in the defensive backfield makes him a valuable player. I could see Chung being an above-average starter for a team if restricted into an inside-the-box role, and I view him as a poor man’s LaRon Landry.
Seriously, Chung is the next-best thing for teams looking at Landry, and Chung’s price tag will be much lower than Landry’s. That’s especially since, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, teams have questions about his health. Reiss writes that Chung is liking looking for a one-year deal to prove himself, and I could see him having success with another team. I hope he does, because it sounds like he won’t be back with the New England Patriots. That’s probably for the better, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if stays. In fact, I think Chung is superior to Steve Gregory. The only clear advantage Gregory holds over Chung is health, but that’s a huge advantage based on the sentiments echoed by most Pats fans and writers.
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