By Kevin Stone/@kstone06/@newftbj
While we all wait for some actual football practices to break down and analyze in (hopefully) a couple months, the Patriots continued to tie up loose ends on the offseason.
Not only did Bill Belichick finish signing his entire draft class with the final piece of the puzzle coming in the form of Kyle Dugger, but apparently BB talked safety Patrick Chung out of retirement to extend him for another two years.
I find it a bit odd that the Patriots continue to add on years to his contract before it’s really necessary, and I have always thought Chung was a bit overrated, but this contract isn’t about the on-field presence as much as it is the off-field contribution Chung now needs to provide.
With a very different looking locker room, guys like Chung, the McCourty’s, Edelman, Gilmore and Hightower may have to take on an even bigger leadership role, so Bill had little choice but to make sure one of the key voices on defense didn’t go anywhere while trying to transition into this next era of Patriot football.
In terms of on the field I have always believed Chung was a tad overrated in terms of where he was drafted and his initial stint here in New England, but it’s impossible to argue that he hasn’t turned himself into a consistent, reliable professional. Chung is no longer the same physical guy he was during the earlier stages of his career, but his presence in the locker room is going to be far more impactful than people may realize.
Belichick extending him with time left on deals several times now is pretty frustrating, but at this point I think Belichick the GM believes Belichick the coach can’t succeed without a slew of veteran voices continuing to pump the Patriot way into a roster that’s getting younger and younger.
Speaking of youth, Chung’s most valuable input may come with whatever he can teach Dugger. Dugger is obviously going to be scrutinized heavily whenever things ramp up simply because of where he was drafted and where he was drafted from. Chung – who just last year dealt with a cocaine charge in NH – can help the young guy in terms of dealing with the ruthless New England media while also stying in his ear about what it takes to play here in this system.
The only concern I have with Chung now (besides his diminishing skills) is his ability to stay healthy. As an older guy with a lot of miles on him Chung seems to be more injury prone than ever now, and what good is that voice for Dugger or anyone else on the defensive side of the ball if it can’t be heard on game day? The old saying that has been beaten to death is dependability is the best ability and I’m not sure how dependable Chung is going to be anymore.
There was little surprise that Bill was also able to sign the entire 2020 draft class with hardly any bad publicity regarding contract talks. I usually assume that guys will sign here after being drafted simply out of fear of not wanting to piss Belichick off, but nonetheless it’s still nice to know that all the young guys are bought in for now and didn’t want to drag their names or negotiations through the mud before their careers even get started.
In the grand scheme of things it feels as if the Patriots are content with allowing their fans to think the team is going to suck this year by keeping offseason transactions to a bare minimum, but with such a crazy offseason for the entire league due to the pandemic, Belichick’s moves last week may have been a blip on the radar, but also quite helpful in terms of stability and buy-in factor.