Patriots

Patriots Should — No, Must — Sign Bernard Pollard

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Bernard Pollard delivers a hit on Wes Welker during the 2012 AFC Championship Game.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Bernard Pollard delivers a hit on Wes Welker during the 2012 AFC Championship Game. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — As the world turns and waits for the dramatic conclusion of the Wes Welker-Patriots saga, there is a move the Patriots should make in the meanwhile to pass the time.

They need to sign Bernard Pollard.

The hard-hitting, intimidating safety announced via Twitter on Wednesday morning that his days in Baltimore were over.

Bill Belichick, who flirted with Twitter for the first (and possibly final) time of his life on Tuesday night, should take notice, and Patriots fans should look past Pollard’s devastating hit on Tom Brady in 2008, look past his presence on Welker’s injury, look past his tackle of Rob Gronkowski two years ago which essentially lost the Super Bowl for the Patriots and look past a Twitter username which looks like it was created by a 13-year-old AOL chat room user.

The Patriots need to add this guy.

For one, they badly need a safety who can actually impose fear in opposing receivers. Since Rodney Harrison left, the Patriots have tried to insert Brandon Meriweather and then Patrick Chung into such a role, but that never really panned out. Meriweather sure could hit hard, but he generally did so by leading with his helmet and knocking people out. There are rules against that. And Chung, despite some early promise, only seemed to get worse (and more injured) by the year, to the point where his signing with the Eagles on Tuesday hardly even registered among New Englanders as something they care about. And to the best of my knowledge, Pollard has never called for and botched a fake punt in a playoff game, which automatically gives him a leg up over Chung.

Pollard, at 28 years of age, isn’t old, and he can still play. He made 98 total tackles last year, 71 of them solo, while registering two sacks and an interception. He’s averaged two sacks and 1.5 picks per season over the past four years. No, those numbers aren’t going to get the man into the Hall of Fame, but when you watch Pollard play, how often are you thinking about his numbers?

More often, you’re thinking about his presence, which is undeniably a factor for opponents. Think of just this past AFC Championship Game in New England. He laid a heavy hit on Welker in the opening Patriots drive of the second half. The hit drew a 15-yard penalty, almost entirely because of Pollard’s reputation, but at the same time, the mighty Patriots offense did not score again for the rest of the day.

Pollard’s also the one who knocked Stevan Ridley out of the game. While some Patriots fans at the time wanted to blame Pollard for a cheap or dirty hit on the running back, it was actually Ridley who lowered his own head to deliver a blow to Pollard. And it was Pollard who flipped the script and became the hammer rather than the nail.

(It is true, though, that Pollard’s dancing celebration after a knocking an opponent unconscious lacked some tact. That would not be encouraged in New England.)

And if Pollard isn’t deemed worthy of signing on his merits alone, can’t the injuries to Ridley, Brady, Welker and Gronkowski convince the Patriots to sign the guy, if only to prevent next year’s injury to another vital offensive player?

So,  Bill, just sign this guy. Your secondary has been the laughingstock of the league in recent years, and this guy has decimated your roster seemingly every time he goes up against you. Don’t let him sign somewhere else and ruin another season for you. He was only due to make about $2 million this season and under $3 million the next two years, so it’s not like it would require you to back up the Brinks truck to get it done.

And, Bernard, come to New England. It looks very likely that Aqib Talib won’t be around next season to hang on to his No. 31 Patriots jersey, so you won’t even have to change your terrible Twitter name. It will take some adjustment for you to remember to not injure the team wearing silver and blue but instead to go after the other team, but in time, I’m sure you can adapt.

You’ve said before that you never enjoyed being called “The Patriot Killer” and that you have tremendous respect for Brady. What better way to make it up to him for that lost season of 2008 than to add an element to his team’s defense that has been sorely lacking for years?

Somebody needs to let Linda Holliday know about Pollard’s tweet. It’s quite simple, really. The Patriots’ signing Bernard Pollard is not a deal that should happen; it is a deal that has to happen.

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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