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Why Is Bill Belichick Stockpiling Mediocre Former Jets This Offseason?

The Patriots have a thing for acquiring former Jets to play small roles on their team. (The Jets sometimes do the same thing.) We wonder why.

Perhaps it's gamesmanship dating back to New York hiring Bill Parcells in 1997, or New England stealing Bill Belichick from the Jets' head coaching job, in 2000, or New York promoting Eric Mangini in 2006. Or maybe there's some kind of strategy involved. The poached players would, after all, have familiarity with the rival's playbook.


It's all fairly mystifying, because they're not—to this outside observer, anyway—good players.

Last year, it was special teams linebacker Marques Murrell and running back Danny Woodhead, who bucked a trend and played well.

This year, the Patriots have signed defensive end Shaun Ellis—who, in 2010, looked old and bad, save for in one playoff game against New England—and safety James Ihedigbo, who's too lumbering to be an effective safety and too small to be an effective linebacker. He works well in Rex Ryan's weird schemes, with blitzing defensive backs flying from all over the place, and he's somewhat endearing, because he celebrates sacks or tackles for losses by pantomiming digging (from the "dig" in his name), but he won't help New England much. And today, the Patriots signed James Dearth, who long-snapped for the Jets from 2001 to 2009. Last year, he signed with the Redskins, then the Chargers, but didn't play in a game for either team.


Maybe it sounds even more depressing this way: James Dearth is a 35-year-old long snapper who hasn't played in an NFL game since 2009. He hasn't made a tackle since 2007. He hasn't caught a pass since 2001. The Patriots signed him today, in spite of all of that, giving them five recent former Jets on a roster otherwise filled with homegrown talent, or high-profile cranky veterans.

We imagine Belichick will soon learn—if he hasn't already—that playing mind games with Rex Ryan doesn't usually work. Too bad the two teams don't meet until October 9.


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