The Los Angeles Chargers will have two noteworthy former New England Patriots defensive players on their roster in 2022.
Boston fan-favorite Kyle Van Noy agreed to sign with the Chargers, per NFL.com. Van Noy had been released by the Patriots back in March. He’d remained unsigned until May 5 when he inked a deal with Los Angeles, who also signed Patriots restricted free agent J.C. Jackson after New England elected not to show the star cornerback the money.
After leaving the Patriots to sign with the Miami Dolphins ahead of the 2020 season, Van Noy returned in 2021 after he was released by the Fins. He played a major role for the Patriots in 2021, starting eight games and playing in all but one contest as New England returned to the postseason after a one-year absence.
As the Patriots appear to be headed toward a youth movement at linebacker, Van Noy was not in the plans. Still, he says, he’ll always be a Patriot.
Kyle Van Noy Explains Why He Signed With the Chargers
“I’ll always be a Patriot. There’s no denying that,” Van Noy said Friday when he appeared on the Pat McAfee Show. “But I’m definitely a Charger and I hope to be putting a Charger symbol right up to the Patriots because I want to be remembered as both.”
While the Patriots and their fanbase seem to hold a place in Van Noy’s heart, he understands the business aspect and seems to be fired up about the role he can play on a talented Chargers defense.
“I think it’s going to be a match made in heaven,” Van Noy said. “I’m going to do everything I can to bring that championship pedigree to that team. That’s something that is within me, and I’m a winner, and that’s what I want to bring.”
Van Noy is joining a defense that looks stacked on paper. Among Van Noy’s teammates on defense are sack machines Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, high-motor young linebacker Kenneth Murray, Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., and Derwin James Jr. Van Noy is projected to play behind Mack to spell him while still generating a bit of pressure off the edge, which is something he’s proven capable of doing throughout his career.
He hasn’t had fewer than five sacks in each of the last three seasons, and he’s only been lower than five in that category once since 2017. Beyond the pass-rushing and versatility, Van Noy was also an experienced leader with positive energy for the defense. Those traits may be as tough to replace as his more tangible qualities.
If all goes as planned, the Chargers could have a top-notch defense.
The Patriots Have Reworked Their Linebacker Group
Meanwhile, the Patriots are looking like a completely different team at linebacker. Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins were left unsigned, with their futures with the team strongly in doubt. Chase Winovich has already been traded to the Cleveland Browns for Mack Wilson as New England is trending toward sideline-to-sideline players.
The Patriots didn’t draft a single linebacker last month, so it would appear they expect to lean heavily on the likes of Ja’Whuan Bentley, Raekwon McMillan, Anfernee Jennings, Wilson, and Cameron McGrone. Almost no one in that group has proven themselves on an NFL level, so there will be major question marks heading into the 2022 season.
McMillan had a strong training camp before tearing his ACL before the start of the 2021 season and McGrone’s athleticism should have Patriots fans intrigued. The hope is that someone from that group will emerge as a major leader who can carry the torch and become a leader of the defense.
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