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Bart Scott: Bill Belichick 'Doesn't Value' Players

By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Bill Belichick is as fearless as any coach in NFL history when it comes to making tough personnel decisions. He has jettisoned countless talented players in his tenure as Patriots head coach, sometimes while those players still have plenty left in the tank.

Belichick has gotten rid of two of the Patriots' defensive mainstays of the last few years in defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Jamie Collins, and it appears he's done so at the expense of his own team. While it's still too early to tell how the moves will really affect the team's Super Bowl chances, no one has come close to replacing the high-end production of either Jones or Collins during the 2016 season.

Such moves are inevitably going to draw criticism if the season doesn't end with a Lombardi Trophy. Former NFL linebacker Bart Scott has long been one of the Patriots' biggest critics, so it's no surprise that he did not hesitate to rip Belichick for his treatment of players in light of how the defense performed against the Seattle Seahawks in their first game post-Collins. Scott did not hold back when the topic came up on the latest episode of Inside the NFL on Showtime.

Before getting into Scott's hot take, it's worth mentioning that this is not the first time he's gone out of his way to criticize the Patriots. He famously ripped the team immediately after the Jets' upset win in the 2010 AFC Divisional playoff game with his "Can't wait" speech, and last season said there's "nothing tough" about Tom Brady. It's good for TV that he's not afraid to criticize even the great ones, but that doesn't mean you have to agree with it.

Anyway, here's the first part of Scott's take ...

"You have to ask yourself, 'Did Bill Belichick outsmart himself letting go of Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones?' ... I think we all agree at this table that these are elite players and we've seen him do this before with Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour. Sometimes coaches think it's more about themselves than it is actually about the players. Great players make great coaches, right? And sometimes they outsmart themselves."

Bart Scott - New York Jets v Philadelphia Eagles
Bart Scott (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Scott made one good point: in many ways, great players do make great coaches. It's ultimately the combination of Belichick and Brady that has made the Patriots so successful, rather than one or the other. But it's fair to say that Belichick wouldn't have won four Super Bowls if he had drafted Tim Rattay instead.

The problem with Scott's first statement here, however, is that cutting Lawyer Milloy before the start of the 2003 season ultimately didn't hurt the team. The Patriots rode an elite defense to a 14-2 record and their second Super Bowl championship that season. The Seymour trade did hurt the 2009 Patriots, but that team had other problems that went beyond that one player. Belichick may not always make the right move, but he doesn't always "outsmart himself," either.

Scott continued, and this is where he really lost me:

"If I'm a young player out there, I'm not going to play injured. I'm not going to play if I need surgery because I know that he doesn't value me. ... I know that he'll ship me out like anybody else. If you're not a part of that core four, core five which is pretty much Patrick Chung, [Tom] Brady, [Rob Gronkowski], [Rob] Ninkovich and [Devin] McCourty, you can be traded tomorrow. So, I'm not going to go out and put my career and my season on the line because I know he'll get rid of me. He doesn't value me. I'm expendable. ... There was no reason to get rid of Jamie Collins. We talk about Jamie Collins being one of the best, most athletic, talented players on the team, in the NFL. He didn't value him. So if I'm a young player, I'm not risking myself and my body for Bill Belichick because he doesn't care."

Scott leading out with Chung as even a part of the Patriots' "core five," let alone the top choice, was puzzling enough. But to plainly make the blanket statement that Belichick doesn't value players is simply false.

Belichick has, of course, valued Brady more than any other player by a wide margin. Having one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game covers up a lot of flaws and allows you to place less value on other players. If he had a mediocre-or-worse quarterback, he'd probably invest more in the defense. But they may yet win a fifth Super Bowl in 2016 and losing Jones and Collins may ultimately not matter.

Still, Belichick has also valued other players besides Brady over the years. Although he and the Krafts may have been tough at the negotiating table, the Patriots gave relatively lucrative deals to players like Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, Gronkowski, McCourty, and even kicker Stephen Gostkowski. They may be about to do the same with cornerback Malcolm Butler and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. So to say Belichick just doesn't value anyone is a ridiculous statement and no more than a scorcher of a hot take.

There's no doubt that Belichick won't over-pay for most players, and that's just another reason why he's one of the best team-builders in the NFL. He's not perfect, he's not going to bat 1.000 with all of his personnel moves, so it's fair to say that sometimes he makes the wrong call. It remains to be seen if he got rid of Jones and Collins too soon, but the early returns do not look good. That doesn't make Scott's statements any less of an over-reach.

Inside the NFL co-host Boomer Esiason put Scott in his place - by bringing up his former team in New York, no less. Sure, the Jets "have loyalty" to players like Muhammad Wilkerson, but he and Sheldon Richardson just skipped out on a team meeting and the team is generally a mess with the kind of issues that "permeate throughout the locker room." Should Belichick focus more on sustaining his success, or making individual malcontents happy in the name of "loyalty?"

Scott jumped on a good opportunity to call Belichick out. The trades of Jones and Collins could turn out to be the kinds of moves that hurt the team in the end, which would justify criticism of these latest personnel moves. But to suggest that he never values players, or that he should be "loyal" to every good player that comes through New England, is just absurd.

Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.

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