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Why is Thomas still a Patriot? (Updated)

Posted by Albert Breer  February 17, 2010 04:21 PM

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"In 10 years, when this kind of physically versatile player is a full-blown phenomenon, people will be wondering who started the whole trend. And you'll be able to point back to this moment and say, 'Hey, I know who it was'."

Yeah ... So Ryan likes him quite a bit.

By whacking Thomas quickly, the Patriots might simply be giving him passage to New York, since the Jets could plan the move around the departure of their free agents.

(Update, 4:58 p.m.: Thanks to reader Mike Rodak, who pointed me to a stipulation in the CBA that says the "Final Eight Rule" doesn't apply to free agents who were under contract on the final day of the 2009 league year ... So since the Patriots have to keep Thomas through the end of the league year, signing him would be an exempted for either the Jets or Ravens here. Seems like you learn something new about all this stuff every day.)

If New England delays it, then the Jets could wind up being handcuffed by the "Final Eight Plan", which has more stringent rules for conference finalists like New York. The Jets, quite simply, might not be able to wait for Thomas to come free, or base a significant offseason dealing around that kind of variable. This dynamic could also affect a possible return to Baltimore -- also a "Final Eight" team -- for Thomas.

Of course, ideally, the Patriots could trade Thomas off and get something in return, while dictating his destination. Unfortunately for New England, the perception he's on the outs isn't exactly a secret, and it's usually pretty tough to deal guys that other teams know are on the chopping block.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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