After the Baltimore Ravens‘ recent Super Bowl victory, it was inevitable that the team would lose a majority of their superstars to free agency. On that list of casualties was future Hall-of-Famer Ed Reed. The New England Patriots knew that he would be available and Bill Belichick and Reed have always expressed admiration for one another.
It seemed like the perfect fit for a team that had been searching for reliable safety play since losing Rodney Harrison to retirement. Then, free agency came along and the Patriots ultimately passed on Reed in favor of Adrian Wilson.
Back when he was in his prime, Wilson was a phenomenal player. He used his size, speed and hard-hitting ability to terrorize opposing pass catchers.
He even was able to accumulate 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in his career. He is one of only ten players to have accomplished this milestone, and he is probably a good candidate for Hall-of-Fame induction himself because of this.
With all of that said, watching Wilson in practice and in preseason games, it has become clear that he has more than lost a step. He looks slow and has lacked the playmaking ability that he has had throughout his career.
Given that he is about to turn 34 in October, it is fair to ask whether he has played his last professional football game. Judging by how he looks and the fact that he played into the fourth quarter in the third preseason game, it is possible that he could be cut from the team in the coming days.
As for Reed, he is arguably the best safety of all-time. He has showed no signs of slowing down, putting up solid numbers consistently throughout his career. Even though Reed is roughly a month older than Wilson, he is still one of the best safeties in the league right now.
The Patriots could have used him to anchor the defense while taking some of the young guys like Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon under his wing, teaching them the nuances of the game.
Tom Brady himself knows how dangerous Reed is in the secondary, as some of his worst games have resulted from Reed’s menacing playmaking ability.
The Patriots had the opportunity to play with him instead of against him. Instead, they let him go to an AFC contender in the Houston Texans who the Patriots will probably have to face this year in the playoffs, assuming that both teams will make it.
The Patriots will be left to wonder what might have been, passing on arguably the greatest safety of all-time.