The Patriots offseason was highlighted by the players the team added via the NFL draft and free agency, but a handful of players also found a new home elsewhere. The player whose departure created the most noise was understandably Chad Johnson (formerly “Ochocinco”), the colorful receiver whose tenure in Foxborough fell short of expectations.
Here’s a look at the three most well-known former Patriots who now reside elsewhere, and what they’re saying about them in their new cities.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals. Though Johnson’s departure was the most talked about, perhaps no player will be missed more than the steady, professional and rugged Green-Ellis. He’s now a Bengal and seems to already have the inside track on the starting running back gig. Quarterback Andy Dalton, for one, likes what he sees. "He's a really smart player. He came in right away knowing what to do and kind of correcting the coach sometimes,” he said. “It's great to have him around. He's great for us. He's not a selfish guy at all. He's all about the team and just wants to win. He's going to be a big part of this offense." (Via Bengals.com).
Patriots Take: Green-Ellis is a positive player to have in any locker room, given his professionalism and dedication to his job. In New England, his absence has created a competition amongst youngsters, primarily Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Brandon Bolden (Danny Woodhead looks ready to maintain his scat-back/receiving role). Thus far, Ridley has impressed the most.
DE Mark Anderson, Buffalo Bills. Anderson turned his 2011 comeback 10-sack season into a hefty payday, landing a four-year deal with the Bills, who splurged in free agency this offseason. Head coach Chan Gailey indicated earlier this offseason that Anderson has a chance to be an every down player; based off of what we saw in New England, he projects better to play in primarily passing situations. It’s still early in training camp, but the Buffalo News noted that Anderson previously “shined” during the Bills mini-camp.
Patriots Take: The Patriots look ready to start two new defensive ends in 2012, with some combination of Rob Ninkovich, Trevor Scott or Chandler Jones. Those three, combined with early training camp riser Jermaine Cunningham and third-round pick Jake Bequette give the Patriots plenty of options to replace Anderson, who may have been overvalued on the open market.
WR Chad Johnson, Miami Dolphins: We don’t need to deliver the narrative on Johnson’s 2011 season in New England other than to say it didn’t work out. In Miami, it sounds like he’s back to his old ways with the media as a boisterous, outspoken player, as evidenced from this transcript of his press conference Wednesday (provided by ace Palm Beach Post beat writer Ben Volin). As for the on-field performance, many early reports indicate a revitalized Johnson. The Dolphins, who are thin at the position, may need that to succeed.
Patriots Take: Wide receiver is far from a concern for the Patriots, as it seems the loss of Johnson is largely forgotten. Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Donte’ Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney lead a talented receiving core that has depth, talent, and experience.