Injury and the Replacements- As a Patriot Lonie played in 156 of a possible 162 games, including playoffs. The 6 games he missed in 2003 should have made Belichick realize how important he was. The only games Lonie missed were due to tearing his ACL during a snowy game against Miami. After shutting Mr. Reliable down for the season, Belichick brought in veteran Sean McDermott. McDermott got hurt in his first game which led to Belichick bringing in his former long snapper from his Cleveland days, Brian Kinchen. I can't even begin to summarize the craziness that ensued during the Patriots Super Bowl run that year, so you'll need to readthis. Trust me, it is a great read.
Damn You Josh- In 2009 Josh McDaniels got his big chance to be a head coach in the NFL. With that chance he scooped up several free agents from the Patriots. Having coached for New England, he knew both the importance of a long snapper and how good Lonie Paxton was. McDaniels gave Lonie a 5 year deal worth $5.3 million. While it seemed like a crazy amount of money for a long snapper,it really wasn't based on his skills and longevity.
Second year Without Paxton- The second season with long-snapper Jake Ingram started off great. So great that Glen Farley wrote this glowing article about him and his nerves of steels and nonchalant Hawaiian attitude. The following game against the Chargers Ingram was a hot mess. He botched 2 snaps and had a holding penalty in the first quarter alone. By the end of the game he had a total of 4 horrible snaps. Two games later he had another horrid game when the Browns beat the Patriots by 20. After the Cleveland game Ingram was shown the door and Matt Katula was brought in to finish the season. Katula would finish the season with the team but not make it through the following pre-season.
Role Filled- The Patriots would claim Danny Aiken off waivers from the Bills on September 4th 2011. Aiken would more than adequately fill the role until current long-snapper, Lt. Joe Cardona would arrive for duty in 2015.
Verdict- I do believe this is a case where Belichick let a guy go too soon. The money and time Paxton got really wasn't that much of a gamble. Of course I say that having no idea if McDaniels would have raised the bar higher if he had to. The fact that it took a while to replace him also obviously comes into play while making the decision as well.