Starks and Dwight Join the Patriots
By Chris Goodhue, Site Contributor
Duane Starks (#28)
The Patriots front office has continued their low profile approach to free-agency again this offseason, bringing in non-household names that will bring maximum results for minimum risk. Value is the name of the game down in Titletown, Massachusetts, and the two-time defending Superbowl champs expect maximum production for their dollar. The team's two recent additions - former Cardinal cornerback Duane Starks and former Charger wide receiver / kick returner Tim Dwight were both obtained in typical Patriot fashion, by not overpaying.
Starks, probably best known for his 49-yard interception return for a touchdown in Superbowl XXXV as key part of the Baltimore Ravens defense, was stolen from Arizona for a third round pick in Aprils draft along with a swap of fifth rounders. When healthy, Starks is one of the leagues most feared ball hawks. In 87 career games, he has 25 interceptions, two of them for touchdowns including 51 passes defended.
The problem for Starks in recent years has been staying on the field. He sat out six games in the 2002 season with a groin pull as well as ankle and knee injuries. He missed the entire 2003 campaign after he tore his ACL in his left knee in the preseason. He had reconstructive surgery on that knee shortly thereafter and played in 15 games in 2004, starting 8 of them and recording 3 picks. Even though the injury report for his career rivals his performance, when you add him to a secondary that won a Superbowl including the likes of undrafted free agent Randall Gay and Steeler castoff Hank Poteat, Starks is a great boost for only a third rounder.
Tim Dwight (#83)
Tim Dwights career has been under the radar for the most part. As a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons, Dwight returned Bronco kicker Jason Elams 4th quarter kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in Superbowl XXXIII. He also set a Superbowl record for kick return average with 42.0, gaining 210 yards on 5 returns. Unfortunately, he was overshadowed by the fact that this was John Elways last game, as well as the Eugene Robinson fiasco. In 2001, he was part of the draft day deal that sent Michael Vick to Atlanta and allowed the Chargers to move down to the fifth pick and draft LaDainian Tomlinson. When he was cut this offseason as a salary cap casualty, most people were concerned with the status of franchised QB Drew Brees.
There was little fanfare when Dwight signed a one-year, $750k deal with the Patriots on March 14 and rightly so at first glance, as he caught only 2 passes in all of 2004. However, the Patriots certainly acquired more than another receiver who falls short of the 6-foot mark. Dwight has been one of the leagues most prolific return men during his career averaging 23.2 yards per kick return with 2TDs and 10.0 per punt return with 3 TDs in his 7 year stint in the league. Along with Bethel Johnson, they will make quite the dangerous tandem on special teams.
As long as the champs keep adding quality personnel for peanuts and continuing their mantra of drafting smart players who fit into their system, they should stay on top. You look at Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli continue to add names like Starks and Dwight along with what were thought to be scrap heap fodder like Mike Vrabel. Then you see the Oakland Raiders throw ridiculous money at unproven players like LaMont Jordan you have to laugh and think that running an NFL franchise really cant be this easy. Can it?
Chris Goodhue has been a leading fantasy football and baseball expert since 1999. Send your questions and comments to cgoodhue in the Insider Forums.
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