The release of linebacker Kyle Van Noy Tuesday was shocking to football fans across the AFC East. Last off-season the Miami Dolphins with former Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores paid handsomely to bring Van Noy down to South Beach in a 4-year $51M contract. He played 14 games with the Dolphins as their captain all the while dealing with a hip injury. Van Noy commented on his release here in this tweet;
As soon as news broke, fans immediately brought up the question that I hope to answer in this blog; “Should the Patriots bring him back?”.
Making The Case
It’s an interesting question without a doubt. The Patriots defense was nowhere near at the level they were in 2019 without the likes of Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Dont’a Hightower. They ranked 26th in sacks, 26th in total run defense, and 27th in red-zone touchdown percentage. It’s easy to look at that and blame it on the lack of veteran presence in the linebacking core. With Ja’Whaun Bentley taking over the role left by Hightower and Van Noy, the Patriots rush defense suffered for it. Looking at the situation broadly, it seems obvious that the Patriots should be interested in bringing back the 29 year old who played for them for four seasons. The team won two Super Bowls in his tenure, and he got 16.5 sacks in his time in Foxborough. He was a staple of that championship defense and a fan favorite.
The only thing that holds me back from joining the “Bring Back Van Noy” wagon is that his price-tag may be out of the range for Bill Belichick. Van Noy was making a $12.75M salary on his four-year deal with the Dolphins before being released. If other teams are able to look past the injury, I’d be willing to bet he could still make some solid money in the league. It’s not like he’s a washed-up player with a questionable history. Thanks to his time with the Patriots, Van Noy has become one of the premier linebackers in the NFL. He’s capable of playing both the inside linebacker position and rush off the edge. Hell, he had six sacks last year with 69 tackles while dealing with an injury!
If other teams question his ability and health, then the Patriots may get him cheaper and run it back as they did with Jamie Collins in 2019. But I wouldn’t count on Belichick being in the strong running for him with the rest of the teams in the league, especially with edge rusher Josh Uche showing his flashes of NFL capability in his injury-plagued rookie season.
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