How Smart Is Pioli Looking Now?

Sometimes NOT signing a free agent is smarter than signing the wrong one just because he has talent. Such is the case when the Patriots opted to sign Steve Fifita over another defensive lineman. So, how smart are those Patriots looking now?

A couple weeks ago, the New England Patriots hosted free agent Darrion Scott for a visit. The free agent defensive end was on the market because the Vikings opted not to pursue the talented defender to keep him in Minnesota. Ironically, the Vikings are the same team that put together a whopping deal to obtain disgruntled Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen.

Tim Yotter of shared some insights with regarding Scott's possible return to Minnesota. "They (the Vikings) aren't interested in keeping him (Scott)," Yotter said via email.

Though Yotter's scouting report indicated that Scott could still be a productive player, potentially fitting into the Patriots system, Minnesota's decision not to pursue him seemed odd.

Why trade for a defensive end when the one familiar with your system is still available if he can still be productive?

The answer likely lies with recent allegations that Scott has off-the-field domestic issues to deal with. After Yotter submitted his scouting report to Patriots Insider, an article appeared in the Minnesota Star Tribune, which painted Scott in highly unflattering terms. The article indicated that Scott had allegedly established a pattern of inappropriate behavior with his 2-year old child for some time. That behavior led to an arrest and formal charges including endangerment of a minor.

Though the allegations are disturbing and involve Scott's son, according to the Star Tribune, Scott's agent Tom DiPiero was quick to lend his support to his client:

"Anyone who knows Darrion knows him to be a big 'teddy bear' type of guy, easygoing and never loud or abrasive. We believe this nightmare is a terrible mistake and that the child has not been abused, at least not by Darrion."

Though DiPiero has chosen to stand by his client in a time of need, the charges are disturbing enough to scare off any potential suitors Scott may have, including the Patriots.

Since his visit, Scott has had a hearing, and been charged as a result of his initial hearing. The case is currently pending.

Scott's visit to Foxborough was an illustration of New England taking care of their due diligence. The decision to wait on the Draft and sign free agents with high character continues to be New England's preference as the build the roster. In this particular case, that decision appears to be a good one.

It is possible Scott will be able to clear his name, and have the charges dropped, but it's unlikely he'll be able to shake the stigma attached to his name from the accusations he's facing. Despite his agent's claims of Scott's innocence, its unlikely Scott will ever play for the Patriots. With the intense scrutiny over character in the NFL these days, the decision not to sign Scott appears to be a wise one.

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