About 10 or 11 months ago, a perfect storm was forming in New England. An acqusition here, a trade there. Finally, when Randy Moss got sent to the Patriots during the NFL draft, it became clear: A new dynasty was in the works.
From there, most people know what happens. Not to be a spoiler, but they lost the Super Bowl as they were stunned by the wild card team that some argued wouldn't break .500 that season.
For a second, the world held their breath. What happens after 18-1? Do we just wait for next season? Is it wrong to laugh at this point? Then about a month ago, talk began. Talk about Patriots leaving. People wanted out of New England. Was there a bad taste in their mouth still? Was the bad PR of Spygate enough to drive them away? No one really knows. One thing's for sure, they didn't leave for a better team. If a free agent wanted to sign with a team that had the best chance to make it to the Super Bowl, it seems clear the Patriots were just that. Yeah, they had lost the Super Bowl, but guys, shit happens. And the fact of the matter was no one was retiring, no one was leaving, and they had a top pick in the upcoming draft. They were in prime shape to make another run at the title. But alas, players, critical ones at that, began to bail.
Asante Samuel got the ball rolling, as he left for the Eagles. Than Randall Gay and Stallworth. Names that defense and offenses of the NF: feared in New England were leaving, and in record pace. It was a fire sale, all acquired talent must go. For a time there was a real scare that they would lose Randy Moss.
Yes, Moss stayed, but is that something to celebrate? Whose gonna line up opposite of him? Wes Welker? Please. The guy is a slot receiver, nothing else. And whose left to scare people into not passing the ball? Rodney Harrison? A beast sure, but the old veteran defensive backs are a dying breed. The young, potent weapons are what the Patriots needed to hold onto, and they couldn't.
Alas, the once high-octane, high-powered football vehicle that was the New England Patriots crashed just short of the finish line. And now, instead of salvaging it, it is being stripped for parts. Parts named Samuel and Stallworth and Gay. Parts that, while not the biggest, most beautiful pieces of the Patriots, will be sorely missed come next season. That much is for sure.