On Tuesday afternoon, the New England Patriots acquired defensive lineman Jerel Worthy from the Green Bay Packers. The move is the latest in a string of offseason additions on the defensive side of the ball by the Patriots. However, unlike newcomers Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis and Dominique Easley, Worthy cost the Patriots very little and could become an impact player.
First, let’s start with the good. Worthy was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Packers because of his blend of size, power and speed. While he barely played at last season due to injury, Worthy at least showed a little something in his rookie season by posting 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 14 games. If he can stay healthy, Worthy has all the tools to succeed in the NFL, at least as a depth player.
However, therein lies the problem — Worthy’s inconsistency and injury proneness has hindered his development as a pro player. The health history is definitely a concern; a torn ACL and a back injury, among other scratches, has kept Worthy off the field too much during the past few seasons, and has limited his offseason work as well.
Now, the Patriots have not one, not two, but three interior defensive linemen dealing with recent ACL tears, as Tommy Kelly and Easley were also sidelined by the injury last season. While that is concerning, it’s important to note that the Patriots didn’t pay too much for Worthy. They owe the Packers nothing — zip, zero — if Worthy is cut, and even if he makes the team, the Pats will just have to fork over a late-round selection in the 2015 draft.
Considering how little, if anything, the Patriots gave up for Worthy, giving him a shot in what remains of the preseason is perfectly fine. Vince Wilfork, Kelly and Easley have the top three defensive tackle spots locked up, but there is an opportunity for Worthy to squeeze onto the team if he can beat out the likes Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones and Joe Vellano. Since none of those guys instill much excitement, it’s worth giving Worthy a shot.
At this stage of his young and oft-interrupted career, Worthy has nowhere to go but up, and if he’s going to do so, it will have to happen within the month. It’s a total win-win situation for the Pats — cut Worthy, and they lose nothing. Or keep him, and they lose a sixth or seventh round pick, and those players often get cut anyways.
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