Kyle Love will be wearing a different helmet in 2013. (USAT Sports Images)
As we and many others reported yesterday, the New England Patriots released defensive tackle Kyle Love this week in the wake of the news that he has Type-2 diabetes. And for those who were wondering whether Love's release might have been for other reasons, there's a lot of evidence that there were no other reasons. First, there was the fact that New England released Love, who started 25 games for the team over the last two seasons, with a non-football injury designation. And, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the Pats gave Love two options: Either retire for a year, in which case the team would not move to recover any part of the $500,000 signing bonus he received as part of his two-year, $3.09 million contract extension he signed in 2012, or take a risk on playing sooner, and take a walk.
Love chose the latter, and as it turned out, he didn't have to wait long for a team interested in his services. The Jacksonville Jaguars reported, per the team's official website, that they picked Love up off waivers on Thursday. Love had lost about 30 pounds off his 315-pound frame in the offseason, which left him unable to participate in off-season activities for the Pats, but according to his agent, Richard Kopelman, Love is back in fighting shape and ready for action.
“Prior to the diagnosis, Kyle recently experienced unexplained weight loss, but since being diagnosed and having altered his diet, Kyle has regained most of the weight he lost, is in good health, and was not limited in any way during offseason workouts in which he was engaged up until being told he would be released," Kopelman told ESPN Boston on Wednesday.
Love is the second former Patriots defensive lineman picked up by the Jaguars this week -- they also acquired defensive end Brandon Deaderick off waivers on Tuesday.
Love played primarily as a run-stopping tackle for the Patriots, and he could well perform the same role for new Jags head coach Gus Bradley, who learned a lot about multiple fronts from Pete Carroll when Bradley was Seattle's defensive coordinator. Jacksonville signed tackles Sen'Derrick Marks and Roy Miller this offseason, moved former tackle Tyson Alualu to end (where Deaderick will also compete for playing time), and the Jags, who have been missing true pass-rush effectiveness for a number of years, will try Jason Babin as the LEO pass-rushing end.
Kudos to the Jags for taking a chance on Love, who had quietly morphed into a good rotational player in his third NFL season. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Mississippi State, and became an important cog in a championship-level line. It's also worth mentioning -- once again -- that diabetes is far from an NFL career-ender.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, two years after the Denver Broncos selected him in the first round. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Sinclair, who racked up 73.5 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks between 1992 and 2001 and still holds the team's single-season sack mark with 16.5, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes late in his career. And offensive guard Kendall Simmons started 83 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills from 2002 through 2009 as a Type 1.5 (Latent Autoimmune) diabetic.
As for the Patriots, you'd think they'll have some explaining to do if the NFLPA comes calling with questions about the way this was handled. And the NFLPA should be doing exactly that.
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