Brandon Meriweather has been with the New England Patriots since the 2007 season. However, fans are now speculating if he will even be with the team in 2011.

Meriweather has been a lightning rod since he arrived from University of Miami, and I think part of the reason could be he is a first round draft pick, and also since he is a strong safety, a replacement for Rodney Harrison. After listening to a lot of the discussion surrounding him, I’m convinced that high expectations have affected the view of the Patriots safety.

Speculation of his future with the team has begun since it was reported by Mike Reiss last week that his reps in practice were reduced with the first team and shared with Sergio Brown. Also, the Patriots brought in safeties Darren Sharper and Renaldo Hill for visits.

Expectations have been so high since Meriweather got here, and he hasn’t lived up to them. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

I am not going to say that Meriweather is one of the top safeties in the game, because that is not true. However, the perception that he could be a bust, and a below average player, I just don’t buy that either.He is an average safety that has unfortunately been inconsistent over the course of his career. At times he has shined with solid play, but he’s had other moments where he has also taken bad angles, and has made mistakes that have really cost the team.

The high expectations that are put on him, I feel have affected the media, and the fan’s view of this player. I do believe if he was drafted in the 3rd round, and wasn’t replacing Rodney Harrison, there wouldn’t be as much negative talk about this player. It has been heightened by the burden of that first round draft pick, and trying to fill the shoes of a guy who will always be remembered as one of the best players to play the position here in New England.

Meriweather’s statistics are again just average. Over 4 seasons, he has 12 interceptions, and 261 tackles. He has also been active for every game since coming to the Patriots.

I am aware of his mistakes like the cheap hit on Todd Heap, and the bad angle he took against the Ravens in the play-off game a few seasons ago. However, I have also watched him over the years, make solid plays as well. I just don’t view him as this terrible player that some portray him to be.

Now, it is quite possible that the Patriots have been looking to replace Meriweather on the roster. Since he is entering his 5th season with the team, I have a feeling they obviously know what he is as a player.

If the coaching staff, and the team decide to move on from him, that doesn’t bother me. They certainly know much more about his abilities than I do.

But, I have watched enough football in my time to know a bust when I see it, and to me, Meriweather doesn’t fit that category. To throw a few names out there as players that I feel have failed with the Patriots, those would be guys like Ray Agnew, Chris Canty, Bethel Johnson, and Chad Jackson. Comparing him against those guys, I’d have to say that Meriweather is not part of that fraternity of Patriots busts.

So Meriweather’s status with the New England Patriots is very much up in the air right now. He could very well end up just like Laurence Maroney last season, and be traded. Also, he could be back with the Patriots for another season.

Regardless of what happens with Meriweather this year, I am hoping fans and media will put his Patriots career in perspective, because I think we all have been affected by who we thought he would become as a player. He may not be as good as we had hoped, but I think most people would agree – he’s not that bad either.