Bill Belichick may not believe in “unwritten rules” when it comes to waivers claims, but he apparently tried to craft one nearly five years ago.
In the days before the term “Spygate” was coined, the Patriots coach was accused by former Vikings coach Brad Childress of trying to persuade the Vikings not to make a waivers claim for tight end Garrett Mills, whom the Pats hoped to sign to the practice squad. Childress said Belichick offered not to claim a Vikings players on waivers in exchange for the consideration.
Childress declined, the Vikings claimed Mills, the Vikings waived linebacker David Herron, and the Patriots claimed Herron on waivers.
“He didn’t really care for that,” Childress said at the time, on WCCO-AM. “He was trying to leverage, but you always find out who is honest and straightforward.”
Fast forward to 2012. Belichick claimed Giants tight end Jake Ballard on waivers, rejecting the notion that teams are ever expected to look the other way in such situations.
“[T]here aren’t any unwrittens,” Belichick said Wednesday. “You can’t negotiate a contract, release him, and then re-negotiate another contract with him that was already done in advance. I’m sure the Giants weren’t doing that. So the player is on waivers, he’s on waivers — ours or anybody else’s. I don’t know what unwrittens you’re talking about.”
Though there’s no reason to believe Belichick opted to claim Ballard for any purpose other than to acquire a good player that the Patriots won’t be able to use in 2012 or need when he’s ready in 2013, the Childress allegations (if true) open the door to all sorts of possible motivations for Belichick hoping to keep the Giants from shifting Ballard off the 90-man roster.