Bill Belichick is always one step ahead of the rest of the NFL. That’s why he and the New England Patriots have dominated the league for the past two decades, and he’s not slowing down at age 68. On Sunday, Belichick made one of the more peculiar moves of his tenure as the Patriots‘ de facto general manager.
Belichick is bringing aboard a marine who hasn’t played football in five years, and he’s even moving the ex-Navy defensive end to a new position. Belichick has a history of patriotic signings, but this one might be the most head-scratching.
Bill Belichick signs marine and ex-Navy DE Paul Quessenberry, who hasn’t played football in five years
Most NFL head coaches wouldn’t go near a free agent who hasn’t stepped on the field in five years, but Belichick isn’t your typical head coach. On Sunday, Belichick brought aboard ex-Navy defensive end Paul Quessenberry.
Quessenberry hasn’t played competitive football since his senior year at Navy in 2014. Since then, he’s been pursuing a career as a marine, according to USA TODAY Sports. Quessenberry did earn a tryout with the Houston Texans in 2015, but he didn’t make the final cut.
In two seasons at Navy, Quessenberry recorded 63 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. He even forced a fumble and recovered another during his short college career. Quessenberry won’t be playing DE for the Patriots, though. Belichick is moving the former defensive lineman to the other side of the ball, saying Quessenberry will try out for tight end.
The Pats’ head coach said he could see the new addition contributing as a full back and on special teams as well.
Belichick has a deep family history with the Naval Academy
Quessenberry’s signing might come as a shock to most, but Belichick has an extensive history with the Naval Academy. Belichick’s father, Steve, spent over 30 years on Navy’s football staff, and he always had his son around the team.
In 2015, Belichick selected Navy long snapper Joe Cordona in the fifth round of the NFL draft. Long snappers rarely get drafted at all, but Belichick saw something in Cordona that ended up paying off.
Belichick has long been a head coach who cares about character over skill. Growing up around a military academy team, Belichick knows that’s where the hardest-working players come from. He must see the same in Quessenberry.
Cordona might’ve put in a good word for Quessenberry as well. The two ex-Navy players were teammates in college and even beforehand.
“[Quessenberry] was my class at the Academy, we were teammates for 5 years going back to the prep school,” Cordona said. “You talk about a special guy that is as tough as they come. It means a lot to me to share this experience.”
Quessenberry has two brothers actively playing in the NFL
Quessenberry isn’t the only football player in his family. His brothers, Scott and David, both actively play in the NFL, too. Scott plays offensive guard for the LA Chargers and David plays offensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans.
If Quessenberry somehow makes the final roster, he won’t be the first in the family to sign an NFL contract, but his story would be the most heartwarming.
Belichick doesn’t make a roster move unless he truly believes in the specific player. We’ll all be rooting for Quessenberry to make his way onto the final 53 this season.