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Much has been made in this young NFL offseason about some of the Patriot's key free agents who are set to hit the market. Wes Welker, Aqib Talib, and Sebastian Vollmer have been the main players in the discussions about usage of the franchise tag and determining who should be brought back, for how long, and for how much.

But not much has been said about fan favorite Danny Woodhead. Much like the rest of his career up to this point, the versatile 5'8" back is flying under the radar. Ever since being brought to New England after he was cut by the Jets (dumb move), Woodhead has proved an extremely useful player capable of making big plays in big games, most noteably in last year's Super Bowl, where he was one of the shining stars in a tough loss to the Giants.



Woodhead played college football at Chadron State in Nebraska, where he shattered a number of college football records and had truly astounding numbers during his four years there (see below). Despite these numbers, he was not invited to the NFL combine and went undrafted. He was signed as undrafted free agent by the Jets, but was waived soon after. The Patriots picked him up and the rest is history.

Danny Woodhead College Statistics:

Year
Games
Rushing
Receiving
Att
Yds
Avg
YPG
TD
Rec
Yds
Avg
YPG
TD
2004
10
284
1,840
6.5
184.0
25
16
163
10.2
16.3
2
2005
10
278
1,769
6.4
176.9
21
30
367
12.2
36.7
0
2006
13
344
2,756
8.0
212.0
34
45
403
9.0
31.0
4
2007
11
250
1,597
6.4
145.2
21
38
484
12.7
41.0
2
Career
44
1,135
7,962
6.9
183.0
101
119
1,388
11.7
32.3
8

This season, Woodhead was instrumental in the epic comeback mounted by the Patriots in the regular season vs. the 49ers, where he was thrust into the role of primary running back following a fumble by Stevan Ridley. While the Patriots lost that game, it wouldn't have been as close as it was without Woodhead stepping up and playing a tremendous game.


Woodhead has been a major contributor to the Patriot's dynamic offense during his three seasons with the team. During that span he has racked up 1,199 yards on the ground, 982 through the air, and reached the endzone 14 times. His ability to run, catch, and play special teams (he has been a regular on the kick return unit) make him an important part of the New England offense.

But looking beyond the numbers, Woodhead has always had something special. He has an incredible nose for the first down marker and always seems to make big plays when it counts, especially on third downs, and in many ways he has become the reincarnation of Kevin Faulk. It is clear he has a great work ethic, and has most likely spent his entire life listening to critics talk about how he is too small to succeed at a professional level. His strong chemistry and bond with Tom Brady is also evident, and that is perhaps the most valuable skill he brings to the table. The most successful Patriot's players are those who are trusted by Brady, and Woodhead is clearly a member of that group. He is also a clear favorite of Bill Belichick, and according to Woodhead, who spoke recently about this impending free agenecy, the admiration is mutual.

"I feel like the coaching staff is obviously one of the best, if not the best, in the league," Woodhead said. "Playing for coach (Bill) Belichick is obviously awesome. He's unbelievable. I've got a lot of great friends. The last three years have been fun. I've really enjoyed playing. I really enjoy being a Patriot." (Quote from BostonHerald.com)
There are a couple of factors that complicate Woodhead's return to the organization. Firstly is the number of players that are higher priorities on the team's free agent list, such as Welker, Talib, Vollmer, and even Julian Edelman (especially if Welker is not signed). Furthermore, the emergence of Shane Vereen as a young talent in the backfield capabale of running and catching the ball may decrease the necessity of Woodhead's service. The same goes for Jeff Demps, the Olympic sprinter and former Florida Gator star who was on injured reserve all season.

All that aside, Woodhead is just a straight up great football player and a great Patriot, who I think will always find a way to contribute no matter how much he is used. But given the aforementioned free agent priorities of the team, it is unlikely they will be able to offer him more than what he could get on the open market. And, should things not work out for him, we already know he has a bright future ahead of him as a Modell's salesman.

So PatriotsNation, what do you think? Will we see Danny Woodhead in a Patriots uniform next year? Cast your vote below.



@LiamPCunningham

Liam Cunningham 2/09/2013 06:43:00 PM Edit
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