Terrance Knighton's decision to sign as a free agent with the Patriots makes sense even to the most casual of football fans: New England is a perennial Super Bowl contender and Knighton is a native of Connecticut. Signing with the Pats puts Knighton on a title-contender and puts him closer to his family. It's a no brainer.
But in a press conference with New England media, perhaps another reason came into play.
"I have a lot of respect for the Washington Redskins and their organization," Knighton said. "Earlier in the process I was told they were going to move in a different direction and they showed interest late once New England did."
Of course Knighton played last season with the Redskins - started 15 games while putting up pedestrian numbers - but the team did make it obvious early that "Pot Roast" was not in the long-term plans. That could have been for a number of reasons, but as the free agency period continued, the Redskins re-entered the market for the market for the 6'5", 350 lbs. nose tackle.
Chris Baker - Knighton's best friend - publicly asked his teammate to stay and for fans to rally around his return to the Redskins. But it didn't work. Maybe the Redskins only got involved late once they saw how much weight Knighton lost this offseason. Or maybe Redskins GM Scot McCloughan renewed his interest upon seeing the one-year team-friendly deal Pot Roast was offered from the Pats.
Regardless the reason, Knighton remembered that the Redskins didn't pursue him until New England did during Wednesday's press conference. What does it mean for 2016? Could be nothing, but Knighton has slimmed down and is committed to getting to whatever playing weight the Patriots want.
"I have a lot of football left and I don’t want anything to hinder me from that. I put last season behind me," Knighton said. "I’m happy about being in New England."
2015 marked one of Knighton's least productive seasons in the NFL, and it was far from the elite level of nose tackle he played in 2013 and 2014 in Denver. A medical condition called cluster headaches complicated Knighton's year in Washington, but even when healthy, his play on the field rarely reached the same level as it had with the Broncos.
"Last year I was obviously heavier than I am right now. I’m in a lot better shape than I was last year," Knighton said. "Contractually, I have things, weights that I need to hit. Whatever the coaches want me to play at then that’s what I’ll be at. I’ve worked really hard this offseason."