Over the years, Bill Belichick has been a master of landing players via exceptional deals for the team, whether in the draft or trade.
Of course, Tom Brady at pick No. 199 is the best, but there are some others that have been outstanding as well.
A good chunk of them have came in the middle of the season when the Patriots have given up next to nothing for players other teams are looking to get rid of.
One of those came around the trade deadline in 2016 when the Patriots swung a deal with the Lions for Kyle Van Noy. The Patriots also received a seventh-round selection from Detroit in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
Almost three years later, it may be one of Belichick’s greatest deals in his tenure with the Patriots, as Van Noy has turned into one of the best players on the entire defense.
“Kyle’s done a really good job for us,” Belichick said last season. “He’s a player that didn’t start his career here but has come in and really has understood the way that we have tried to do things. He’s embraced it. He’s become very much of a leader in, A, doing his job and doing it the right way, but also helping other guys, particularly guys that transition onto the team as he did.
“He has a good perspective for that. But, he’s been very durable, dependable, he’s a smart football player, he’s versatile. He can do a lot of different things defensively, in the running game, in the passing game and in the kicking game. So, he’s got a good skillset and is a smart player with experience and can fill a lot of different roles for us. It’s hard to find players like that. He’s been a valuable guy for us.”
Van Noy was essentially a non-factor during his three seasons in Detroit, but that’s changed in a big way now that he’s in New England. In 36 regular-season games with the Patriots, he has 192 tackles and 10 sacks. In 30 games with the Lions, he had 36 tackles and just one sack.
“I came from a place where I could barely get on the field, coaches didn’t really trust me,” he said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. “Here, I was just thrown onto the field and the way I played built their trust.”
Van Noy added: “I think when you go to a situation where you’re labeled a bust or things weren’t working out, but just wasn’t clicking, you start to question your athletic ability and just life in general. ‘Am I doing everything right?’ I think to stay positive and keep the people, your family, close that are always encouraging you and your friends that are always encouraging you close. Just try to grind through it. That’s what I tried to do. Now, it’s paid off and hopefully will continue to pay off.”
Not only is Van Noy one of the best players on the Patriots defense, he’s becoming one of the most versatile defensive players in the entire NFL.
Consider this: there are only four players in the NFL since 2016 (including playoffs) that have over 200 tackles, more than 10 sacks, 20-plus quarterback hits and at least two interceptions. They are Lorenzo Alexander, Khalil Mack, Vince Williams and Van Noy.
Not bad company for the Patriots linebacker to be in.
It’s crazy to think just three years ago the Lions pretty much went out of their way to trade him for essentially nothing, and now he’s among the top defensive players in the NFL.
The deal may go down as one of Belichick’s most underrated great moves and it likely will only get better as the next few years go by.