a blog by La Kifo
The 30 year old veteran defensive tackle was cut by Bill Belichick and the Patriots today in a move that I really want to question.
Knighton is a proven talent in the NFL. The defensive tackle has been a mainstay on teams in his career, only missing four games in his career and starting over 85% of games. He was instrumental in the Broncos first run to the championship game with Peyton Manning in 2013. Knighton made a couple big plays against the Patriots to secure the AFC Championship and a trip to the Superbowl.
The guy was a run stopper with surprising athletic ability considering his weight and size. A big problem the Patriots ran into last year was rush defense, particularly an inside presence that could plug gaps and control interior linemen. In both their loses to the Broncos last season (the regular season and postseason) they really struggled to contain CJ Anderson and the run game.
Imagine, if the Pats had Knighton last postseason against the Broncos. I am 100% sure that game would have turned out differently, if he had been apart of the roster. So I am mystified as to why Bill cut Terrance Knighton.
There was a lot of depth at the defensive tackle position this training camp, Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown are two returning players who have been looked at to have large roles during the regular season. I love me the Malcolms on this team and Alan Branch has been a beast in blue. When Bill says other people were ahead of him, I can understand when talking about those two. What I don't fully understand is how Bill put Vincent Valentine, Markus Kuhn, and Anthony Johnson over Knighton. Valentine was a third round pick who hasn't neccesarily played well this preseason, but he is a third round pick so I get the choice of Valentine over Knighton. I just want it stated for the record that Valentine played pretty poorly in the first two preseason games, what we are seeing from Valentine is progress as he has gotten better week after week. Johnson went undrafted in 2014 and found himself signing to the Miami Dolphins. His season would only last seven games, he found himself on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He never made the 2015 Dolphins roster and was signed to the Washington Redskins practice squad in November of 2015, yet again found himself teamless after the season when he was cut in May. The Patriots picked him up a week after his release and now here we are. I haven't seen Johnson play much, but there is no way that Belichick would keep a practice squad guy around over a NFL starter unless he saw something special in him. So again, I will trust that Anthony Johnson can prove himself in Foxborough. Finally, Markus Kuhn and I won't waste anymore time, I like Markus Kuhn. He has played well in practice and the preseason games. The thing with him is I doubt he will have any large or immediate impact on the Patriots. Likely, the three guys Bill kept in favor of Knighton will not contribute to the 2016 Patriots. But that is a gamble made frequently with good odds.
Knighton was 30, and who knows what kind of toll playing on the interior with that weight and frame has taken on his body. Two of the three I mentioned earlier are on the right side of 25, the exception being Kuhn. Another factor had to be the money, the Patriots signed Knighton to a one year $1.7 million contract. The other guys are making a fraction of that. Anthony Johnson is making $1.1 million over two years with no guaranteed money or bonuses.
As the preseason progressed, the inevitability of this became more and more apparent. Am I surprised? Kinda, but the move makes sense and is one we should have seen coming.
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