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Patriots make questionable free agent signing in attempt to bolster defensive line

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Patriots fans have lived by one motto over much of the past couple of decades: “In Bill we trust”.

Bill Belichick is not only regarded as the best coach in NFL history by many, but he’s also recognized as one of the top football minds to ever grace the sport.

After winning Super Bowl LI, Belichick, who also serves as New England’s GM, was surprisingly aggressive and made a number of moves once the new league year began this week.

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Most notably, the team signed prized free agent cornerback Stefan Gilmore to a five-year, $60 million deal and also landed wide receiver Brandin Cooks via trade from the New Orleans Saints. Additionally, they traded for defensive lineman Kony Ealy from the Panthers and tight end Dwayne Allen from the Colts.

However, one curious signing happened on Saturday and it’s a real head-scratcher.

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Even after re-signing defensive tackle Alan Branch and trading for Ealy, Belichick inked former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Lawrence Guy to a four-year, $20 million deal.

Guy, a 6’4”, 305-pound behemoth, has the athleticism and strength to play anywhere on the defensive line, but he has proven to be more of a rotational player in his career thus far. In fact, he had just one sack for the Ravens last year, and according to The Boston Globe, he played 46.5 percent of the team’s snaps on defense plus 26.7 percent of the team’s plays on special teams.

Mike Reiss of ESPN graded the deal as a “C+” and gave the following explanation.

“The Patriots are a flexible defense in the sense that they will morph their scheme into different things on a week-to-week basis. When the agreement with Guy was first finalized, the first thought was, 'Could the Patriots be considering going back to more of a pure 3-4?'"

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

He added, "This gives them another piece to consider that, but nothing is ever that black and white with the team's plans. It's all about having a variety of pieces. This could take the team out of the mix to sign veteran Jared Odrick, who has a similar playing style as Guy; Odrick visited the team last week.”

Therefore, we are left with more questions than answers.

Could the Patriots be planning a shift to a pure 3-4 defense? Are their hidden signals at play behind the scenes? Do they simply have different plans for him than his past teams have had?

Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos

Reiss also wrote the following about Guy.

“With longer arms and a powerful playing style, Guy projects as a rotational player who will also be part of the team's field goal block team, where he showed up for the Ravens in September. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, which, according to the Baltimore Sun, wasn't diagnosed until he was 19 as a student at Arizona State.”

Luckily, he has overcome those hurdles and has made it through multiple contracts in the NFL, which can’t be said for too many players.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons

While on the surface it may seem like the Patriots are overpaying for Guy, it always seems like New England has a plan in mind with everything they do.

After all, “In Bill we trust” is never more relevant than right now.

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Topics:
Bill Belichick
Tom Brady
AFC East
Rob Gronkowski
NFL
New England Patriots

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