Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why You Never Ever Trade with Bill Belichick

And with the 98th pick the Seahawks select...

...the worst player in the draft. Taco Wallace. David Greene. Rudi. Much like every car I ever bought used, this pick is guaranteed to cause regret. If a 4th rounder can ever be a bust, this pick will be the new definition. If a 4th rounder can set your team back for years to come, this one will. This guy will knock up the coaches daughter, sell HGH to the rest of the team and get pinched, and fall on Russell Okung's newly recovered ankle on the first play of training camp. The best thing for the Seahawks to do with this pick is tie rocks to it and bury it at sea.

I exaggerate too much. Yet the idea that you are bound to lose in any deal with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is hardly without foundation - and that is exactly what Seattle did to obtain that 98th.

Pictured: A standard New England trade agreement
There is a story Abraham Lincoln used to tell from his log cabin days. Abe fancied himself quite the horse trader, claiming he had never lost a deal. As the story goes, Abe found himself challenged by another horse trader of particularly slimy reputation to a duel of sorts, a horse trade sight unseen. Abe thought he was assured success when he showed up with a saw horse. But he knew he was bested when the other man showed up with a horse skull and a rack of bones. A saw horse is at least useful. The identity of that other man was never revealed, but I suspect it was Bill Belichick. The Devil doesn't die, does he?

Labeling a deal with Bill as Faustian may be hyperbole, but the suspicion is hardly unwarranted. When Randy Moss was stinking up the joint in Oaktown, nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted him. Yet when Belichick traded his 110th pick of the 2007 draft for him, you could almost hear the collective "OH SHIT" from 30 other teams as they realized he was still really good. The fact that the Raiders then went on to select John Bowie with that pick (I know, I never heard of him either) only compounded the error. I suspect Bill whispered to Al Davis as the trade was finalized, somehow suppressing his smirk the whole time, "Feel like I'm getting hosed here Al, we kind of had our hearts set on this Sam...Er...John Bowie guy in the 4th. Ran a 4.3 at our private workout. Anyway, good luck with the pick, Mr Davis."

Facetious? Yes. Inaccurate? No. Bill's penchant for misguiding other GM's is well documented. He convinced his self-styled protege, Josh McDaniels, that the Patriots had their eye on Tim Tebow, and the Broncos traded back into the first with the Ravens to get Tebow ahead of the Patriots' pick. The Ravens couldn't resist the overpaying Broncos, so they passed on CB Devin McCourty, who they really needed. The Patriots snapped McCourty up, Ozzie Newsome double face palmed, Josh got fired, and the devil won again.

Somehow, he even fooled the wily ol' Bill Parcells into thinking that he'd better snap up Pat White for the Dolphins or the Patriots would get him. Really, Mr. Parcells? A quarterback that is my size? Even I know 6-foot 185-pound quarterbacks are a bad idea. Whether he is filming your practices, stealing your signals, or using his Jedi talents to plant stupid thoughts in your drafting mind, Bill knows how to make you do stupid stuff.

Green gloves not pictured
By the time Al Davis pulled his pants back up, our very own Tim Ruskell had already taken his turn against Mephistopheles. Coming off General Managing his way to a Super Bowl, Ruskell was flying high, and Bill marked his next victim. You all know the next part - Seattle sold its soul and a first-rounder for WR Deion Branch, leaving fans to lament the success G Ben Grubbs had in Baltimore. Belichick turned that first rounder into S Brandon Meriweather, a damn good player. Seattle got a rack of bones, held together by bad knees and green gloves. Deion Branch's success back in New England only validates that Ruskell successfully dismantled a franchise. Don't worry, Seattle fans - anybody stupid enough to deal first rounders with Bill wouldn't have taken Grubbs anyway.

Speaking of which, how many Seattle fans were surprised when Deion Branch went on to have a good 2010 season in New England, being the catalyst for an offense that was suddenly rejuvenated following his arrival? Not many. I thought your knees were balky, Mr Branch? Suddenly feeling better? Of course you are. He was part of a deal with Bill Belichick; his success was assured. Branch could have been a double amputee, and somehow the 4th gained by his departure would prove to be the short end of the deal.
It really only is fitting that Bill himself is a first round pick, the penalty levied against New England after they surreptitiously lifted him from the Jets after he was a coach there for a matter of hours. It wasn't long after that he began winning Super bowls in the spring with savvy draft day moving. A 6th round franchise quarterback? Really? Trading a 2nd rounder for Corey Dillon? Trading a 4th rounder for Ted Washington? Do the other 31 front offices not own history books? Or a brain?

I should amend that last statement. There is one GM that has gotten the best of Belickeck: Ted Thompson. In 2006, Bill found himself in the shoes of so many of his victims. He coveted a player that would not fall to him, so he traded up. He moved a 52nd and 75th pick to Green Bay for the 36th slot so he could take Chad Jackson. Pfffftttttt. Green Bay turned that into Greg Jennings. Maybe we can hope against hope that John Schneider inherited some of Mr. Thompson's magic. 

Personally, I think Bill lost that trade on purpose. Who is going to deal with the devil if they are guaranteed to lose?

Addendum: Brandon Adams wishes to offer his own theory on how Belichick plants epic failures in the minds of GM's.


  1. Great write up. Bill Belichick is probably as close to the Devil/Emperor Palpatine as it gets in the NFL. I don't know how this guy keeps getting the better end of the trades.

    Here's to hoping that Schneider and Carroll pick someone good with that New England 4th rounder.


  2. I agree that the man has made good trades. However, i'm getting tired of hearing things like "this is what the Patriots would do" as a reason for possible moves.

    After all, they have the benefit for the best QB in the NFL and still they've won less playoff games over the last 3 years then the Seahawks have.

    (this is a reply to Patriot front office love in general, not just this article)

  3. Someone finally gets it! The Patriots succeed year after year because of Tom Brady, not because of some pick-hoarding strategy.

  4. Tom Brady is definitely a good reason for team success but the pick hoarding strategy has to be doing some good for them too....no?

  5. Their defense has been mediocre to bad for three years and their offense succeeds regardless of who's playing skill position. QB play really does seem to be the most overwhelmingly influential factor.