Bill Belichick made headlines for his commentary about the Patriots’ lack of depth.
Fans want answers when their team gets off to a 2-5 start, and that’s exactly what New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been tasked with providing after the team’s fourth straight loss against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
But instead, he’s strewn up some more controversy with his comments on Monday, stating that the Patriots are in this position with a lack of money and depth because they “sold out and won three Super Bowls.”
It really doesn’t take endless research to discover that’s a straight up lie, and all you have to do is look at the players who have come and gone over the past few years.
The Patriots are NEVER paying for high-profile guys. That’s pretty much why Tom Brady left this offseason. He was sick of taking team-friendly deals for the most part after leading this team to endless success over the last 20 years. When New England “splurged” for Stephon Gilmore and paid $65 million over five years for the cornerback, everyone was shocked.
And if you look at the Patriots’ cap situation over the last few years, nobody was making a prohibitive amount. Yes, Brady had a $21.5 million cap hit in 2019, but he was followed by Devin McCourty ($13 million), Dont’a Hightower ($11 million), Gilmore ($9 million), Julian Edelman ($7 million), Kyle Van Noy ($6 million), Shaq Mason ($6 million) and Marcus Cannon ($5 million). How many other NFL teams would LOVE to pay those kinds of prices for such impact players?
Let’s even go back as far as 2016 when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. Their seventh-highest paid player was Joe Thuney, who had a cap hit of $943K. Brady led the way with $22 million and was followed by McCourty ($13 million), Rob Gronkowski ($12 million), Cannon ($7.5 million), Cyrus Jones ($1.275 million) and Jacoby Brissett ($1.08 million).
And a quick pull of the numbers over the last decade further prove that the Patriots barely spent more than the league average in regards to their payroll. They actually did THREE times by a COMBINED $14 million. That is literally nothing for a team that won SIX Super Bowls over the course of a 19-year period.
And sure, while the whole depth argument could very well be chalked up to the Patriots leading the league with eight player opt-outs this offseason due to the pandemic, let’s not forget this team has had a horrific draft track record dating back six years. If those drafts weren’t so bad, maybe the Pats would have some extra bodies lying around to contribute.
Let’s do a quick draft breakdown since 2016, shall we? After all, if the Patriots had overly successful drafts since then, they’d still have a lot of these guys on the roster since first-round picks can last up to five years with the teams that drafted them.
- 2016: 1st-round pick (lost because of Deflategate) and 2nd-round pick Cyrus Jones (played 12 games with the Pats)
- 2017: Traded 1st-round pick for Brandin Cooks (who was traded after the 2017 season) and used their 2nd-round pick to trade back and acquire Kony Ealy and Derek Rivers
- 2018: 1st-round picks Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel have been solid, but both have missed a lot of time due to injury and Michel’s play has significantly declined since his rookie year. 2nd-round pick Duke Dawson was traded and never played a down with the Pats
- 2019: 1st-round pick N’Keal Harry is simply not very good, though injuries have held him back, and 2nd-round pick Joejuan Williams doesn’t seem to be filling the role Belichick had envisioned for him
- 2020: 2nd-round picks Kyle Dugger and Josh Uche were both drafted as projects and it’s far too early to judge either of them
So there you have it. The Patriots have rarely ever spent big on free agents, have been largely hesitant to pay their own productive players, and have not particularly drafted well over the past five years, at least in the early rounds when you’re supposed to pick up an immediate impact player.
This has nothing to do with “selling out.” It has to do with the processes in New England no longer being as effective as they once were.