We touched on this earlier, but now it’s sort of official, or at least getting close to official. So we’ll touch it again, and we’ll touch it real good.
Jeff Demps is an Olympic sprinter, but not too long ago he was also a sprinter in a football backfield and he was asked to carry a ball and run really fast with it. He did that in Florida for the Gators, and now he’ll be doing it in New England.
Fresh off of winning a silver medal with the men’s 4 x 100 relay team at the London Olympics, Demps is reportedly set to sign with the Patriots, according to everyone everywhere on the Internet, but mostly John Clayton. The Jets were heavily considering Demps because he would have been another ideal weapon for their newly-installed wildcat package, and the Bucs were also courting the latest athletic specimen who’s the object of the league’s infatuation. Yep, Demps is the August version of Josh Gordon, just with more versatility.
Through four seasons as a Gator, Demps had 2,470 rushing yards while averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and scoring 23 touchdowns. He was also used frequently as a receiver out of the backfield, finishing with 481 yards through the air during his time at UF. But Demps’ explosiveness in the return game could be his most important asset for the Patriots.
He’s the ideal addition to a Patriots team with an offense that often resembles the system that Demps came from in Florida with its frequent use of spread formations. Demps has been called a poor man’s Percy Harvin, and while it’s easy to see how that connection is made (they’re both fast guys who are fast, and do fast things), there may be a more appropriate comparison to a guy who’s on Demps’ new team, and even plays his position.
He’s a rich man’s Danny Woodhead. Demps will surely be faster, and while he may need time to re-adjust to running with a football as opposed to just running, his receiving and rushing skills will likely be on par with Woodhead’s too.
Which leads to an inevitable conclusion: Woodhead could be the next victim of the Patriot way. He’s in the final year of a contract that will pay him $700,000 in 2012, and Demps’ presence decreases the likelihood that he’ll be re-signed.
With Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley battling for the bulk of the touches in the Patriots’ backfield, inevitably a platoon will develop, and Woodhead will fall to third in line. He’s retained his value with his receiving ability and his kick returning, but now there’s another shifty and fast player at his position who can play an identical role, and maybe play it better.