When Buccaneers' general manager Mark Dominik traded Legarrette Blount to the New England Patriots for Jeff Demps and a 7th round draft pick it turned some heads amongst Bucs' fans. After all, Blount was a former 1,000 yard rusher and was capable of highlight reel runs, while Demps had yet to even take an NFL snap while in New England.
Demps was honest about his track aspirations coming out of the University of Florida. He neglected to enter the draft, instead choosing to focus entirely on the 2012 Summer Olympics. After the Olympics, Demps signed a three year deal with the Patriots, reported to training camp, and participated in a couple of preseason games before tweaking his knee in the preseason finale. Despite the Boston Herald reporting that the MRI on Demps' knee was "fine", the Patriots still put him on injured reserve. Many found this suspicious, and thought that the Pats were stashing him, specifically trying to avoid having the Bucs' put a waiver claim on him if they attempted to add him to their practice squad.
Fast forward to after the trade, Bucs' fans are told that Demps has decided to compete in the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia on August 18th. Demps had reportedly been chosen for the 4x100 relay team, but did not end up participating in the race. Why wasn't he chosen? Let's take a look and see just how successful Demps is amongst his peers in the track and field world.
Let's start with the Olympics. While we constantly hear that Jeff Demps won a silver medal as part of the 4x100 m relay team, we don't often hear that he was essentially just an alternate. He was added to the team at the last minute after an injury to fellow sprinter Mike Rodgers. While in London, Demps did run in the preliminary round of the relay, advancing the United States, but was replaced by another sprinter in the finals. Despite being replaced, Demps was still given the silver medal since he had participated.
I don't mean to trivialize Demps' accomplishments or his speed, but I think it's important that we look at his prospects as a sprinter and why he is choosing that profession over one in the NFL (despite happily taking the Patriots' money). Demps' best event is the 60m, a primarily indoor event that has not been seen in the Olympics in over 100 years. Demps' twice won the event at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, in both 2010, and 2012. He also won the 100m at the 2010 outdoor championships with a heavily wind aided time of 9.96 seconds.
Pretty fast, huh? Well, not so much when we talk about entering the professional world of track and field. Take Demps' best time in the 60m, 6.52 seconds. It's a far cry from the current world record of 6.39 seconds set by Maurice Greene, and although Usain Bolt has never participated in the event, if he did, his splits show he would come in at 6.31 seconds. Demps time doesn't even post in the top 30 times recorded. When we do the same comparison with the 100m, we see that Demps' personal best time of 9.96 (which was wind aided and wouldn't count in records anyway) doesn't really stack up with the elite guys out there. Usain Bolt holds the world record with a time of 9.58 seconds. Demps' time again doesn't even crack the top 25.
So, yes indeed, Jeff Demps is fast as Hell, he just isn't one of the elite guys on the planet. While he may never win gold medals, he's certainly fast enough to at least compete with the big boys in these events. On top of the money the Patriots gave him last year, he also has a sponsorship deal with Adidas, so while the NFL money is nice, he probably could make a decent enough living for the next five years or so by focusing solely on track and field.
And yet, we were told that Demps would be reporting to camp after the World Championships (which he didn't end up competing in) and he still hasn't shown up. In fact, Demps is still in Europe, having competed in an event in Linz, Austria this past Monday. He finished 4th in the 100m with a time of 10.29 seconds. It isn't looking good for the prospect of ever seeing Demps in a Buccaneers uniform, and head coach Greg Schiano seemed to be losing patience last week. In an interview with Joe Bucs Fan, Schiano said the following:
"Supposedly he’s coming. I don’t know. We’ll see ,I don’t worry about guys that are not here, you know? So he’s not helping us get better right now. He’s out there running track somewhere. So, if he’s going to do that — if he gets here and helps us win he will be part of it. If he gets here and can’t help us win, he can go back and run track. We are here to win games."
While no one can fault Demps for pursuing his dream and choosing one career over another, especially when one career is much more violent and can leave one permanently injured, we can expect a straight answer and to not be strung along. Are you coming or are you not coming? Hopefully the Buccaneers aren't suckered into providing Demps with supplemental income for his world track and field adventures like the Patriots were.
The best thing to come of this may have been the selection of Mike James. The Buccaneers used the pick the Patriots traded to them to move up and select James in the 6th round. While he may not ever be as good as Legarrette Blount was in a Bucs' uniform, at least he has a good shot at making the roster and being a useful backup to Doug Martin. It still stings a little when you see Blount ripping off highlight runs in a Patriots jersey, but hopefully Schiano learned his lesson. No matter if you're best buddies or not, never, ever trade with the New England Patriots.