Former Patriot defensive coordinator Eric Mangini who is familiar with Chatham from their days together in New England is now the Jets head coach. It was Mangini who gave Chatham playing time throughout the season, even keeping him in as the primary linebacker in the Patriots final game against the Dolphins in 2005. It was a game the Patriots almost won with their second and third string players against the Dolphins first unit.
Chatham told Patriots Insider he feels he has the experience to make the calls necessary as an inside linebacker, a position Mangini and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had him playing on and off through the season. Originally spending time on the outside early on in his career, Chatham practiced inside while linebacker Tedy Bruschi was recovering from an off-season stroke.
The 6-foot-4 250-pound Chatham has the speed and the size to play either position, but has spent most of his career in New England on special teams. Chatham talked about proving he's more than a special teams player, at training camp, and continued working toward that goal through the season.
The former South Dakota product visited Mangini's Jets in New York on Saturday and is expected to visit other NFL clubs who are looking for a linebacker in their 3-4 defenses, including the 49ers.
One interesting note about Chatham, is if he does decide on playing in New York, he would be the type of free agent pickup the Jets need at the moment. A player familiar with Mangini's system, familiar with the coach and one who wouldn't break the bank to sign. Mangini needs to bring in bodies that can help him spread the message, like Belichick did in New England when he brought in Bryan Cox, Pepper Johnson and others from his past.
Chatham has more to offer to New York than just another serviceable linebacker. He is a believer and can help a young, inexperienced coach get things started on the right foot.