The New England Patriots have signed former Florida Gators running back and United States Olympic track star Jeff Demps to help boost their special teams and add some more speed and depth to the backfield.
Actually, speed may be putting it mildly, as Demps is coming off of a silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics. After completing his Gators career, one in which saw him help lead Florida to a 2009 National Championship, Demps was part of the U.S. track team who won the silver medal in the Men’s 4×100 relay team.
Simply put, this guy can motor, and while he may not see too many snaps in the Patriots’ backfield this season, he is expected to be an explosive player on kick returns, which is something New England has been lacking for quite some time.
So while adding a player with Demps’ speed and ability would be nice enough for most teams, what may make this signing extra special in New England is that it seemed that they almost stole him away from their biggest rivals, the New York Jets.
Remember how that worked out recently with Danny Woodhead? The Jets sure do.
Demps’ former Florida teammate, Tim Tebow was trying to convince New York to sign him, and it appeared as if a deal may be close. But the Patriots swooped in and offered Demps a three year contract and made the signing official last night. And while Demps could take away a few carries from Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, the speedy former track star should excel in special teams play this season.
Demps was actually seen as a potential mid to late round draft pick this past April, but he decided to skip the combine and draft workouts in order to focus on the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Walking away with a silver medal and a contract with a Super Bowl favorite a week later, it appears as if Demps made a wise choice.
While he is not eligible to play until New England’s third exhibition game, which will come this Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Demps should be able to wrest the kick return job from Danny Woodhead, while the Patriots may opt to keep Julian Edelman to return punts.
Either way, any time you add a player who could be as explosive as Demps, while doing so at the expense of your rivals, it is almost always seen as a good signing.