The Patriots and Bill Belichick made a considerable steal back a few years ago, trading for the under-utilized linebacker Kyle Van Noy with the Detroit Lions. Considered a draft bust, Van Noy found a home, and a system that maximized his talents and he spent three productive years in New England. He then signed a $51 million dollar deal, with $30 million guaranteed with the Miami Dolphins last spring.
But with the reduction of salary cap space in 2021, Miami made the decision to either cut or trade one of their captains, just a year after signing him. Van Noy was slated to make $12.75 million that would’ve been fully guaranteed by March 19. His release will save Miami $9.75 million against the cap. It wasn’t a production issue; Van Noy produced 69 tackles, a career-high 10 tackles for loss, six sacks, and 10 quarterback hits. He also forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, and had six passes defensed.
“I am surprised and disappointed in their decision,” Van Noy told NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. “As a captain, I gave my all to the team. I fought through a painful hip injury during the season, including spending a night in the hospital after a game.
“I was brought there to be a leader, and I know my teammates looked up to and respected me. I am looking forward to making an impact on my next team, on and off the field.”
As soon as the news broke, the prevailing attitude was that Van Noy returning to New England for a one-year deal, playing himself (again) into a big-money deal was a slam dunk. It is a “no-brainer”, it “makes too much sense”, etc. Granted, Van Noy knows the defense, has a great relationship with the coaches and veteran players in Foxboro, and pairing him with a returning Dont’a Hightower (COVID-19 opt-out) would alleviate the depth issues at linebacker, but not the long term issues at the position.
Not so fast…
Yes, it would work on several layers as those mentioned above, but it also would work with other teams as well, and one team could be offering Van Noy the long-term deal he covets and thought he had with Miami.
Both Van Noy and the Giants had mutual interest a year ago, as former Patriots coach Joe Judge also had a lot of knowledge about Van Noy brings to the table. The G-Men could be once again in the mix and matching Van Noy with Blake Martinez could give Judge an active, versatile pair of linebackers. Especially considering the Giants, like New England have question marks at several LB slots.
When Judge was hired last spring, Van Noy was a guest on Pat McAfee’s podcast and had this to say. “He’s a ball of energy,” Van Noy said.
“If he can take his energy and consistently each and everyday line it up with that positive energy and not go ‘woo, woo’ all over the place, I think they’re going to be really, really good because he’s a really good coach. When he gets going, it’s money. I’m excited for him with the Giants. Go Giants, right?”
Baltimore may be losing Matthew Judon in free agency also could use a veteran, versatile linebacker, and playing on an already very good defense with a team that will be a contender can’t be ruled out.
Don’t discount the Jets either. New head coach Robert Saleh was a defensive coordinator in San Francisco, and with a whopping $73 million to spend in free agency, the Jets could offer more than a one-year deal. The Jets defense needs a lot of help and signing Van Noy, combined with the return of C.J. Mosley (COVID-19 opt-out) would give Saleh, two versatile pieces in the middle of his defense.
While bringing back Van Noy makes total sense for the Patriots for a variety of reasons, they are hardly alone in needing help on their front seven. And the Patriots, as of today, are no longer one of the preferred destinations in the NFL.
So, while we’d love to see Van Noy back, for at least a year in Foxboro, don’t rush out to pencil him in just yet.
Posted Under: 2021 NFL Offseason
Tags: Baltimore Ravens Bill Belichick Dont'a Hightower Kyle Van Noy New England Patriots New York Giants New York Jets NFL Patriots linebackers