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|Adalius Thomas, middle, has fit perfectly into the Patriots defensive scheme. (Courtesy of viewimages.com)|
#97 Adalius Thomas
6’2″, 270 pounds
College: Southern Miss
Signed: Free Agent – March 2, 2007 (5 years, $35 million)
Pick any cliche you want: a match made in heaven, two peas in a pod, go together like peas and carrots.
The fact is, Adalius Thomas was born to play for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Thomas, 30, was arguably the most coveted defensive free agent after a 2006 contract year where he had 64 tackles, 11 sacks, six pass deflections, an interception and a safety. In his seven years with the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas slowly crept into the vaunted Ravens defensive scheme and became an All-Pro linebacker. By utilizing his size, speed and versatility, Thomas kept improving his stats, boasting 188 tackles, 28 sacks and four picks in the last three seasons.
When it came time to hit the free agent market, most NFL fans knew only one Baltimore linebacker, perennial All-Pro Ray Lewis. Because Thomas could play as a down lineman, any linebacker position and even some defensive back, coach Belichick and Vice President of Player Personell Scott Pioli made signing Thomas a top priority. Thomas signed a five year, $35 million contract in March, which included $20 million guaranteed.
|Adalius Thomas has amassed 28 sacks in the last three seasons. (Courtesy of photobucket.com)|
The Patriots now boast the deepest – and possibly most talented – linebacker corps in the NFL. The addition of Thomas allows Mike Vrabel to move back to his more natural position at outside linebacker and Thomas has so far slide in as the “Mike” Inside Linebacker along with Tedy Bruschi.
Thomas will wreak havoc on opposing offenses because he will be coming from all positions of the line. In the pre-season game against the Titans, Thomas lined up multiple times on the defensive line. He is able to play on the end and blitz past offensive tackles and use his strength to surge through the middle. His pass coverage abilities will be invaluable and will allow Vrabel and fellow OLB Roosevelt Colvin to do the dirty work off the ends.
The Patriots have struck gold with Thomas and his versatility was simply built for the Patriots style of defensive play calling. His addition makes the Patriots defense that much more potent and he should put up solid numbers in his first season.
Thomas has already shown he can seamlessly incorporate himself into the Pats defensive scheme. His presence at middle linebacker, along with Bruschi and veteran Junior Seau, will be a formidable stop gap for the running game. The return of Seau adds to the depth at MLB and will allow Thomas to roam other areas. He is a prime-time defensive player and will put the Patriots front seven a cut above any other team in the AFC. His numbers may not be gaudy, but along with the rest of the defensive play makers Thomas will be a team leader from Day 1.
2007 stats: 68 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 11 pass deflections, three interceptions.