Veteran defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois is hoping to have a storybook ending to his 2017 season.
Jean Francois has been a journeyman NFL lineman since being the 49ers seventh-round draft pick in 2009. He’s played on five NFL teams in his nomadic career. He started out 2017 by playing in six games for the Green Bay Packers, then wound up the season with the New England Patriots.
After playing sparingly for Green Bay, Ricky was released on November 1. In that time, his only recorded stats were two tackles. He had signed with Green Bay for a fairly hefty one-year $3 million deal.
The Pats picked him up on November 7, and though they too released him for a short time, he played in six regular season games for them, and compiled 10 tackles.
In the playoffs, however, the veteran has made more of an impact. After just one tackle and a sack against the Titans, Jean Francois had five tackles in the Pats’ narrow win over the Jaguars.
Jean Francois was a starter against both the Titans and Jaguars. In each game he partook in about a third of the defensive snaps – making his five tackles against the Jags all the more impressive.
Here’s what Jean Francois has to say about his good fortune: “I’m blessed to be here, because they don’t just pick anybody to walk inside this building,” he said. “They are a rare team. A lot of players can’t say they had this chance to play for the Patriots, or to be coached by Bill Belichick.”
Not bad for a seventh-round pick who has tenaciously hung around the NFL for nine seasons now. In that time, he’s managed 165 tackles, 12 sacks, and 12 passes defended.
Unlike the Packers, New England and Bill Belichick have made productive use of the 313-pounder. In the course of a tumultuous year, Jean Francois has been released four times – once by the Redskins, twice by the Packers and once by the Patriots – and yet here he is, an expected starter for the favored team in Super Bowl 52.
Just another example of how the Patriots often find productivity in a player throw away by another team.
The 31-year-old Miami native of Haitian descent, has weathered all these storms with a “don’t worry, be happy” attitude, and it’s all paid off. I suppose it’s what you’d expect of a guy who owns 30 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.