To quote Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott: “Let’s not give more credit to Bill Belichick than is needed.”
That’s what some New England Patriots fans might be saying when looking at the payroll for the 2022 season, which was drastically affected by the head coach’s spending spree about a year ago.
The Patriots’ haul received endless praise for the admirable aggression it took coupled with how it revamped the roster after the franchise’s worst season in 20 years. And we were among those in Belichick’s corner!
But now that the dust has settled and the Patriots are looking ahead to next year, we have to review some of the duds that might restrict the team’s spending when free agency opens in March. They’re highlighted by a couple redundant acquisitions.
The Patriots spent too much on Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor.
Smith has plenty of time to make up for his poor 2021 since he has three more years left on his contract, but Agholor is going to need a Pro Bowl showing in 2022 to justify the amount of money the Patriots paid him. Let’s take a look at their contracts and performances this past season.
Jonnu Smith Contract Details
- Four years, $50 million
- $31.25 million guaranteed
- $15 million signing bonus
- Dead caps of $26 million and $13 million next two seasons
- 2021 stats: 28 catches, 294 yards, 1 touchdown, 8.9% drop percentage
Nelson Agholor Contract Details
- Two years, $22 million
- $16 million guaranteed
- $10 million signing bonus
- Dead cap of $10 million in 2022
- 2021 stats: 37 catches, 473 yards, 3 touchdowns, worst catch percentage (57.8%) since 2016
Though Smith’s been used in various manners (as a blocker and rusher) and Agholor’s likely helped open the field for other pass catchers, it just wasn’t enough to justify the salaries and the manner in which they both contributed to holding the offense back (whether it was their faults or the Patriots made a poor decision on their personnel fits).
Combined, their cap hit of $28.5 million is 13.7% of the Patriots’ total 2022 salary cap. Usually, when it’s that high of a number, you’d expect double the production than what they managed on the field during the regular season.
Then again, the offense has changed a bit and had a rookie QB in Mac Jones calling the shots for Smith’s and Agholor’s debuts in New England. Maybe that time under their belt coupled with another full offseason will go a long way toward seeing these guys maximize their potential in Year 2 of the Pats’ re-tool.