By: Ian Logue
He’s been a Pro Bowl safety for the most part since the Patriots drafted him, and now one season after he saw his playing time cut after he revealed it was because he was improvising too much, Brandon Meriweather can’t seem to understand why so many fans and media are wondering if something is amiss with New England’s safety.
What lies ahead for Brandon Meriweather? (FILE:Icon/SMI)
From watching the game, I didn’t see Meriweather until nearly the start of the third quarter playing with 2nd and 3rd string guys. He and Darius Butler were the lone veterans out there for the only logical reason of having an opportunity to shine against the Giants lower tiered guys in the latter part of the game, while also providing some veteran guidance to the other younger defensive backs.
At the start of the game, it was Patrick Chung and Josh Barrett who were the two guys out on the field. Chung played well, including nearly taking a fumble recovery in for a touchdown, while Barrett finished with 4 combined tackles and (3 solo, 1 assist) and for the most part did a good job in his debut. Bill Belichick talked a little about him after the game, and said Barrett brings size and experience to their backfield.
“Josh is a big safety that can run, has some experience, played in the kicking game, played defensively, both down and nickel defenses and also back and safety for the Broncos,” said Belichick. “Obviously, he didn’t play last year. He’s had an opportunity to practice the last couple weeks. He had a chance to play tonight, so that was good. It was good to get all those guys out there tonight that haven’t played this year in games.”
The fact that Barrett was in the game ahead of Meriweather would generally be considered to be a red flag, but not to him. He told Ian Rapoport after the game that Belichick tells everyone to be ready to play regardless of when and how long, and he was just doing what he was told.
“Coach always tells us be ready to play for 60 minutes,” Meriweather said. “At any point he can put you in or take you out. Coach is going to do whatever he thinks is best for the team and everybody else just has to live with it.”
One interesting thing to point out was the fact that according to Rapoport, he overheard Meriweather talking to CSNNE’s Tom Curran and the safety got emotional during that conversation.
“Why everybody feel like I’m in trouble?” Meriweather asked Curran. “Hey, maybe they know something we don’t. Maybe they know something that (Belichick) didn’t tell us. He usually come and tell us if there’s something going on. He’s good with stuff like that so, you know, I’m just going to keep working hard and keep playing. … Ever since I was little, it’s always hard for me to get something good going about myself. Ever since I was 10 years old people been finding fault with me. I’m used to it.”
One conversation I had with someone earlier left us wondering if maybe Meriweather was in there for the opportunity of seeing a guy of his caliber shine against 3rd string guys in hopes of showcasing him for a potential trade. It’s a situation that’s tough to predict because there are two issues there:
1) He’s heading into the final year of his contract and should obviously be motivated to earn a new one. For New England to maximize his production, it’s always better to have a guy who’s playing for a new deal.
2) The problem is a new deal likely wouldn’t come here – so it doesn’t necessarily make sense to just let a guy like him walk and get nothing in return. Meriweather is still one of the better safeties in the league, and considering how much this team values draft picks, it doesn’t seem logical that they’d let a former 1st round pick walk without getting something for him.
Like him or not there are far worse players out there, and either way until they truly have a viable replacement, it’s a dangerous move to make without knowing you have an adequate guy to step in and get the job done.
For now the only guy who probably knows what the deal is has already made it clear that he’ll ultimately do what’s best for his football team. As we know Belichick’s track record in these situations speaks for itself, and we’ll likely find out the plan for this season regarding Meriweather soon enough.