Patriots Release 2 Bill Belichick Favorites from Defense: Reports

Bill Belichick

Getty The New England Patriots released two defensive players who were favorites of former head coach Bill Belichick.

Jerod Mayo is already helping the New England Patriots get younger on defense by releasing two favorites of former head coach Bill Belichick. The Pats cut ties with defensive tackle Lawrence Guy and safety Adrian Phillips on Monday, February 19.

Those moves were reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Offloading Guy and Phillips takes away two smart and rugged veterans from both ends of New England’s defense. Head coach Mayo and defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington will be confident about replacing them, but each player performed key roles in a scheme that shouldn’t change much, even without Belichick on the sideline.

The moves have at least freed up $6 million worth of space under the salary cap, according to Taylor Kyles of Patriots on CLNS.

Any extra funds can help the Pats focus on adding elite talent to a pedestrian offense. The unit needs multiple acquisitions at both the skill positions and along the trenches.

Things are more stable defensively, although Guy and Phillips could still be missed.

Lawrence Guy Filled Unfashionable, But Vital Role for Bill Belichick’s Defenses

Guy posted a farewell message on X: “Thank you New England you welcomed my family and I for the past seven years and always made us feel at home, the community we build the people we met and the communities we impacted thank you for always welcoming us with open arms. I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.”

The Patriots also owe Guy a debt of gratitude for seven years of sterling service. During that time, big No. 93 usually performed an unfashionable, but vital role.

Namely, that of a run-stuffer inside. Belichick always made room for a big body up front who could absorb double teams, keep linebackers clean and clog rushing lanes.

Often times, this player was an unheralded journeyman signed off the veteran market. Bulky D-tackles like Gerard Warren and Alan Branch stepped into the role, but Guy was one of the best.

As Evan Lazar of put it, Guy was a “Force against the run. Two-gap, take on doubles, win when singled.”

Guy’s greatness was confirmed when he helped the Patriots win the 2019 Super Bowl as part of a stingy defensive effort that shutdown the high-powered Los Angeles Rams. The lineman helped himself to a pair of tackles and even put a hit on quarterback Jared Goff.

Replacing Guy won’t be easy, although there was some thought Belichick was going to release the veteran last offseason. Instead, 33-year-old Guy will get his chance to test free agency this year.

It leaves Mayo and Covington relying on younger linemen like Christian Barmore and Keion White to pick up the slack. The Pats do have a more established option to replace Phillips.

Bill Belichick Signed Ideal Adrian Phillips Replacement

Phillips was long admired by Belichick for his on-field smarts. Back in 2021, Belichick even compared Phillips to Patriots’ Super Bowl winner Patrick Chung. As Mayo’s predecessor put it, Phillips “almost always does the right thing,” per Dan Roche of WBZ-TV.

Things weren’t exactly smooth sailing for Phillips during Belichick’s final season in charge. Phillips made just one start and the 31-year-old allowed a 100 percent completion rate in coverage, according to Pro Football Reference.

Fortunately, Belichick had acquired Jabrill Peppers in 2022. The former Cleveland Browns and New York Giants defensive back limited opposing quarterbacks to a modest 52.9 passer rating, per PFF NE Patriots.

Peppers will remain a key part of the Patriots’ secondary and make it easier to cope without Phillips. Especially if Mayo also has to replace free agent, Kyle Dugger.

It already looks like Mayo is moving toward a new look, at least in terms of personnel, defensively, ahead of the Patriots’ first season without Belichick since 1999.