Why? What now?
First, my guesses at the reasoning…
Maroney was in the final year of his contract, as are all the running backs. If they figure Maroney was not going to be a star (which they did), then the assumption is that he’s similar to Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Except Taylor is the starter, Morris also plays fullback and Green-Ellis is a special teamer. If Maroney wasn’t going to be the No. 1 guy, how much value on the field does he have?
As for trade compensation, he actually had the most value. Could they have gotten a fourth rounder for the others? Nope. In addition, this clearly means the Patriots were not going to extend Maroney after the season, so they had to get value now.
But what next?
Taylor is the starter, and the team will simply ride him as long as it can. He may be old, but he’s looked good. Perhaps he can hold on. But I think Morris and Green-Ellis have shown they are capable backups. All of their contracts run out after this season, and Morris and Taylor are on the long side of 30.
So, here’s my final thought: The Patriots will be in perfect position in next year’s draft — with Oakland’s first-rounder — to draft a running back for the future. And I think they will. I’ve already heard internal rumblings about one particular player.
Don’t be surprised if www.rolltide.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/ingram_mark00.html">Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram is on their radar. They love his hard-running style, his toughness, and his sterling character. Plus, they can get a good scouting report from Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. Ingram is a junior, but he’ll likely come out early, especially with talented Trent Richardson on his heels.