Thursday, March 14, 2013
At Least The Patriots Kick Return Game Is Getting A Serious Upgrade
The Patriots' raid of the NFC West continued today as they added kick returner Leon Washington (formerly of the Seattle Seahawks) on a one-year deal (terms were not disclosed). This comes a day after they gave former Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola a five-year deal. He's a two-time Pro Bowler (2008, 2012) who was also named an All-Pro in 2008 specifically for his prowess on punt returns and kick returns, an area that New England has really struggled the last few seasons.
Drafted in the fourth round by the Jets in 2006, Washington started out as more of a third-down back but he has morphed into mostly a return specialist. He played four seasons in New York and was in Seattle for the last three years. He's been durable too, playing in all 16 games in six of seven seasons. In 2012, he averaged 29.0 yards per kick return (2nd in the NFL to Baltimore's Jacoby Jones) with one touchdown and 8.7 yards per punt return.
He is tied for the most kick return touchdowns (8) in NFL history with Josh Cribbs. Seattle deemed him expendable since he'll be 31 in August and they just traded for Percy Harvin. The Patriots were 25th in the NFL last season with an average of 21.2 yards per kick return (from Devin McCourty and Danny Woodhead) so this should be a huge upgrade to their special teams.
Getting Washington means that Jeff Demps Patriots career might be over before it ever really started (since he missed last season on IR). Anyways, there has been talk that he wants to pursue a professional track career and I'm sure the team didn't want to hear that. Also, this could mean that Woodhead is gone if New England trusts Washington to get more touches than last season with the Seahawks (23 rushes, 4 catches). For his career, Washington has 2213 rushing yards, 16 rushing TDs, 146 catches, 1127 receiving yards and two TD catches. Keep in mind that he's short like Woodhead (5-foot-8) but bulkier (listed at 210 pounds).