Taylor ended up in Miami, where he started his career and played for 10 seasons. It was one of the few examples of a player turning down a chance to join the Pats; head coach and evil genius Bill Belichick has an incredible knack for convincing free agents -- through Charles Manson-styled brainwashing, no doubt -- to come to Foxboro. Not this time.
Which means that New England still has a gaping hole at outside linebacker, a position Vrabel manned capably during his eight years there. According to Football Outsiders, the Pats' defense ranked 20th a year ago, and while they've upgraded the secondary (Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden, Patrick Chung), and added depth along the defensive line (Ron Brace), questions remain at linebacker.
Last year's first-round pick Jerod Mayo is legit, and Adalius Thomas, when healthy, is a playmaker. But Tedy Bruschi will fossilize sometime around Week 12, and then there's the cast of characters currently expected to replace Vrabel: Pierre Woods, Shawn Crable, Vince Redd and Tully Banta-Cain.
I recently suggested that the Patriots, behind a healthy Tom Brady, could return to hanging 50 points on opponents and not have to concern themselves with playing defense. Maybe Belichick's considered that, but he's not yet ready to fully commit to it (via Reiss' Pieces via ESPN via WEEI):
...The Patriots are interested in trading a 2010 draft pick to acquire Oakland Raiders pass rusher Derrick Burgess.Well, assuming they're interested, the Pats have enough future draft selections stockpiled to throw the Raiders a bone for Burgess. A second-rounder doesn't sound exorbitant -- it's what the Redskins gave the Dolphins for Taylor last offseason -- but this is the same outfit that duped Al Davis into swapping Randy Moss for a fourth-rounder two years ago.
The purported deal the Patriots are considering would send either a second-round pick (New England has three in 2010) or a third-round pick to Oakland for Burgess, who is in the final season of a five-year deal he signed after leaving Philadelphia for Oakland as a free agent in 2005.
Burgess seems like a good fit in New England. He's 30, which is young for Pats' linebackers, and has 47 career sacks in 85 games. Plus, doing the Randy Moss Math*, Burgess will have 75 sacks next season.
* Take a player recently traded from the Raiders and multiply their productivity by 10 billion percent (+/- 15 million percent).