With the supermassive black hole of Tom Brady's pending free agency creating a gravitational pull from which no attention can escape, it's easy for other players to get sucked into that event horizon and disappear into a singularity. (H/T to every show on Science Channel.) When the began, I ranked my non-#Braxit priorities of players I'd like to see the Patriots retain if at all possible.
No. 3 on that list is Kyle Van Noy:
He's a guy you can call a System Linebacker and it's a total compliment, because his game is elevated by his understanding of the concepts and the way they make the most of his abilities. It's not something everyone can grasp. He was among the leaders on the defense with 814 snaps, which was almost twice as many as No. 2 edge defender John Simon. He led the team with 15 QB Hits. And he was [Pro Football Focus'] 21st highest graded edge player. It'll be a real test of whether other teams see him as a fit for them as well and wave a big fan of cash from the back of their limo. Or even if he's looking to maximize his earnings or just wants to compete for a title every year in the place that's perfect for him.
I should've added that PFF had him graded as their sixth best edge defender in the league against the run, something you goddamned better excel at in a system that does not have specialists. So yes, he's still a high priority on a team that has too many to possibly keep them all.
But after reading what he told NFL.com, I should probably start working on my sad breakup playlist and get ready to eat a tub of ice cream on the couch in front of "Bridget Jones' Diary":
"It is interesting, but I'm going to be honest, I want to be a priority for a team and I feel I have to go where someone is going to make me a priority," Van Noy said by phone this week. "I'm sure New England knows that. If that opportunity comes, it comes.
"I'll be frank, I don't see myself waiting around. I'm pretty sure those guys aren't going to wait around either. They're really good at their craft. They're at the top of the league at their position so it'll be interesting." …
Van Noy … said he has yet to have any discussions with the Patriots about a new deal ("I'm sure they're waiting for Tom," he said), so it appears he'll get the chance to negotiate with other teams.
I don't mean to come off sounding like Van Noy leaving would be a disaster the franchise will never recover from and they might as well move to Old England. They've lost a lot of Van Noys over the years and none of them were fatal. His emergence four years ago was an upgrade from Jamie Collins. And subsequently let them move on from Chris Long and Trey Flowers. Before them it was Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones. Hell, in 2011 they got double digit sacks out of Mark Anderson and Andre Carter, with Carter actually going to the Pro Bowl. And somewhere Tully Banta-Cain is hopefully pouring over a fat 401K statement because they made him richer than any 239th pick has any reason to hope for. The point being that they always find a guy to replace the guy.
Still, this would sting. KVN has been a huge asset. A gear that has fit perfectly into the machine of Belichick's defense, meshing with the cogs and flywheels. Plus he's one of those guys that's clearly having a good time and likes it here. You root for those guys and you want to see them stay.
Of course there's always the chance he will. The lack of communication from the Patriots is troubling. But he may just be one of those guys they set out into free agency to test how crazy the money is from the fiscally irresponsible teams with dumb management. And then once the player sees what he can get they look to match it. It happened with Devin McCourty who was a much tougher sign, and with Dont'a Hightower, who was ESPN's choice for top free agent on the market. All you can do is hope both sides decide the benefits are worth the cost and the smart business decision is made. If nothing else, it beats talking about Brexit for a few paragraphs.