According to the latest Vegas odds, the Patriots entered training camp as the favorite to win yet another Lombardi Trophy despite a perceived glaring hole on the team's defense at outside linebacker.
After more than a week of double-session practices at Gillette Stadium, Patriots' coach Bill Belichick decided he needed to do something about that potentially fatal flaw on the edge of his 3-4 front.
On Aug. 6 Belichick was able to complete a trade that had been in the discussion stages since before draft weekend, sending a pair of mid-round draft picks to the Raiders in exchange for disgruntled defensive end/outside linebacker Derrick Burgess. The deal includes a third- and fourth-round pick going to Oakland, although the latter selection converts to a fifth-round pick if New England can acquire such a pick, as the team does not currently own one in that round.
Over eight seasons, first in Philadelphia and then in the Black Hole, the 6-2, 260-pound Burgess has recorded 47 sacks. He earned Pro Bowl honors in his first two seasons in Oakland combining for 27 sack in 2005 and 2006, including a league-high 16 in 2005. Since then injuries and a contract dispute soured the situation for him by the Bay.
In New England he gets a new life in a new scheme, although one in which he's had some experience with in Oakland under former New England linebackers coach Rob Ryan.
"What his role will be, we'll determine after he gets here and start working with him and put him in our system," Belichick said of Burgess, a player he coached at the Pro Bowl following the 2006 season. "Some of the things we do are a little different than what Oakland or Philadelphia did. How exactly he'll perform and what that will turn out to be we'll just have to wait and see. I think he's a pretty talented player. I think he has some versatility, but exactly how that all works out and how it manifests itself, we'll just have to wait and see."
While his role remains to be set, there's little question that Burgess -- who's in the final year of a contract that will pay him $2 million this season -- will be called on to contribute. He joins a depth chart at outside linebacker that includes returning starter Adalius Thomas, unproven fourth-year player Pierre Woods, Tully Banta-Cain and 2008 third-round pick Shawn Crable.
"He's had a lot of production. He's not just a pass-rusher. I think he's a strong player. He's not the biggest player, but he's a very strong player for his size. He plays with good power and I think he's a good player in the running game," Belichick said of his newest player. "I think he can rush the passer. He's had a lot of production.
"I think he's a good football player. That's why we got him. We think he's a good football player and he's been productive in this league. I expect that he will be productive in this league for us."
Burgess' new teammates, having yet to even meet the former Pro Bowler, were eager for him to join the ranks of a New England roster that's expected to do great things this fall.
"I think every move we make is to better the team," nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. "Hopefully he can come along and put together something that's special for us. I've seen his play and I love it. Hopefully he can bring that same type of play here and help us win some ballgames.
"It's a huge pickup for us. I can't wait for him to get in here and start playing around him and we'll go from there."
Having now filled its perceived biggest need -- after an offseason of speculation and little else regarding big names like Jason Taylor and Julius Peppers -- with a Pro Bowl talent, New England is even more steeled for a run a yet another Super Bowl.
Hot Topic: Will Burgess Have A Big Impact For Pats?