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What if I told you a former All Pro safety, productive in his last full season in the NFL (2012), said he'd like to join the Patriots over any other team? You'd say that's a good thing, right?

That's exactly what happened yesterday with Kerry Rhodes. The free agent, who went unsigned in 2013 despite being the fourth highest graded safety in 2012 by ProFootballFocus, did a Q&A on Deadspin yesterday. When asked where he'd most like to play, regardless of contracts, his answer was direct.

Here's the backstory on Rhodes. He was a fourth round pick of the Jets in 2005, where he quickly excelled, earning a spot on the 2006 AP All Pro team. Rhodes developed a reputation as a playmaker, racking up six forced fumbles, 10 interceptions and 8 sacks in his first three seasons with the Jets. However, his relationship with the Jets coaches apparently soured (Rex Ryan ripped him in his book, calling him "a selfish-ass guy" who "wouldn't work" and "was a hollywood type"), leading them to trade him during the 2010 offseason to Arizona for a fourth and seventh round pick.

Arizona didn't suffer one bit from Rhodes' alleged Hollywoodness, getting excellent play from the him in his three years with the team. In 2012, Rhodes tallied up four picks, 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a sack along with his 67 tackles. As mentioned, ProFootballFocus had him as their fourth highest graded safety for the season.

However, Rhodes' unwillingness to negotiate his $5.5 million salary led to him becoming a cap casualty for Arizona following that season. Less than a month later, gossip website MediaTakeOut published pictures of a vacationing Rhodes looking very, shall we say, cozy with another man. Rhodes quickly denied rumors he was gay, while identifying the man in the pictures as a former assistant.

The fact that Rhodes went unsigned by the entire NFL in 2013 raised quite a few eyebrows in the media. It seemed unfathomable that a player coming off of a productive season couldn't help a team out there. The unfortunate possibility that Rhodes had been blackballed for his perceived sexuality became a topic of discussion. Rhodes continues to insist that he's not gay and doesn't feel blackballed, but it's certainly curious that a productive player could suddenly find himself without a single suitor.

If the opportunity is there to pick up Rhodes, it could be a great value for the Pats. Without any other teams competing for his services, Rhodes will likely take whatever offer the Patriots give him, creating an opportunity to sign him at a bargain rate. This certainly helps too.

With Steve Gregory and Adrian Wilson both candidates for release, Rhodes could become an affordable alternative to fill that veteran role next to Devin McCourty and promising second year man Duron Harmon.

On the field, Rhodes could be an intriguing fit next to Devin McCourty. While McCourty is renowned for his steady, sound play, Rhodes is a playmaker. Both have the speed to play centerfield in coverage, but Rhodes has displayed more of a knack for producing turnovers. Playing next to the responsible McCourty could give Rhodes even more chances to gamble for big plays.

Rhodes is by no means a slam dunk acquisition. He's a 31 year old defensive back, he hasn't played competitive football in over a year, and his commitment to the game has been questioned in the past. Furthermore, we don't even know if Bill Belichick would consider Rhodes a fit for his defense.

On the flip side, Rhodes was very productive just a year ago, comes with relatively little tread on his tires (eight years with last year off), and has been relatively injury free in his career (Rhodes has only missed 10 games in his eight year career, with eight of those coming from a fractured foot in 2011). He claims to be in great shape and wants to play. Why not take a shot on him?

Would you like to see the Patriots bring in Kerry Rhodes? Let us know in the comments

Ned Brady 2/21/2014 11:17:00 AM Edit

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