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You want classic Bill Belichick? Just a few weeks ago, hours after producing the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, the New England Patriots coach lamented that he was already behind on the coming NFL season.
Guess he’s caught up now.
The Patriots began the new league year with a bang, trading with the Indianapolis Colts of all teams — remember Deflategate? — to land another multifaceted tight end in Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett’s likely replacement. New England also lured perhaps the top cornerback on the free agent market, Stephon Gilmore, with a five-year, $65 million deal that suddenly makes Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler potentially expendable. Butler could be headed to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who would bolster an already formidable offense with his dimension of speed.
And it’s too early to rule out the notions that the Patriots can re-sign impact linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who sparked the Super Bowl comeback last month, and ultimately get a sweet package by trading backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
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This is what we’ve come to expect from the Patriots. Shrewd moves that demonstrate they are never content to sit back and wait on the competition to close the gap. No wonder they are the greatest team of this generation and — given the challenges of a salary cap and free agency — maybe the NFL’s best dynasty ever. It goes way beyond Tom Brady. It’s what Belichick does annually to complement his marquee quarterback.
If only Dan Snyder’s franchise in Washington was half as brilliant.
It’s a new year in D.C., too, and Washington is also giving us what we’ve come to expect — just count the ways.
The general manager, Scot McCloughan, had been missing in action and was fired Thursday night. Franchise-tagged quarterback Kirk Cousins requested a trade during a visit with Snyder, according to an ESPN report, which is like the captain looking to abandon a sinking ship. With every day there’s another layer of drama.
They should come up with a new name for the team headquarters dubbed Redskin Park. Just call the place Dysfunction Junction.
After a relatively quiet offseason last year, Snyder’s outfit is reverting to form. While New England has won five Super Bowls and seven AFC titles under Belichick, Washington has won all of three playoff games since winning its last Super Bowl following the 1991 season.
What a contrast.
The state of two of the league’s signature franchises provides a telling snapshot — an NFL tale of two cities — as another wave of player movement builds before laying the foundation for another season.
Maybe if you’re Garoppolo, whom the Patriots may be inclined to keep as Brady’s successor unless an offer comes along that they can’t refuse, you’ll issue just one request of Belichick: Please don’t trade me to Washington.
I mean, Cousins, who entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick, is ticketed to collect $44 million between last season and the upcoming one and apparently still wants out. When it comes to contract negotiations that have yet to produce a long-term deal and just a pair of franchise tags, there’s no time for loyalty. Then again, maybe Cousins can plainly see the writing on the wall that suggests this Washington situation won’t improve anytime soon.
Sure, Snyder and team president Bruce Allen may have tried sending a signal of stability by re-upping coach Jay Gruden’s contract by two years on top of the two years left on his original pact. But that’s hardly coming off as an upbeat vibe when McCloughan, whom Washington gambled on two years ago after alcohol-related issues factored into him getting dumped from high-level executive jobs with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, is suddenly ousted.
The drama between the team and McCloughan is another chapter that is classic Washington. If it was a gamble to hire him in the first place, it blew up in Snyder’s face — like so many of the big-money free agent splashes that only won points during offseasons over the years.
No, you can’t blame Snyder for trying. Can’t blame Belichick for trying, either. Yet the results from all those efforts couldn’t come from more divergent ends of the spectrum.
Yes, it’s a new year in the NFL. But some things remain the same.
Follow NFL columnist Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell
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