Could the Patriots prevent this from happening?
Theoretically, yes. The team has his rights and could trade him, thus controlling where he lands.
But I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Thomas’ contract calls for a $4.9 million base salary in 2010 and any team dealing for him would inherit that. Chances are pretty good that no one will want to pay that, plus a draft pick, to get him.
One thing that could facilitate a trade would be a reworking of Thomas’ deal. My guess, though, is that Thomas wouldn’t be real willing to to cooperate on that end, when he knows he’ll ultimately be released anyway.
So in the end, if the Patriots don’t want Thomas, there’s probably not much they can do to prevent him from joining Rex Ryan with the Jets or Mike Nolan in Miami. In fact, with those two teams vying for Jason Taylor’s services, there’s a decent chance that the team that loses out might plan on going after Thomas.
Then again, I don’t think the door is closed on the possibility Taylor could wind up here, which could make this game of edge-rusher roulette even more intriguing.