When Robert Kraft speaks, the New England Patriots should listen
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft seldom opines on football matters but when he does, the Pats’ staff should listen closely. It certainly behooves them to pay close attention to the majordomo of the entire team, and that includes the head of football operations, Head Coach, and de facto General Manager Bill Belichick.
Recently, Kraft spoke to the media about the team and had some interesting things to say. While he doesn’t do so often, it certainly makes waves when he does, especially when he talks specifically about the sensitive area of the football operation itself. Like the old E.F. Hutton TV commercials years ago, when he speaks, you listen.
Prior to the 2021 offseason and draft, Kraft was uncharacteristically frank about his wishes for that upcoming season. After spending upwards of $155 million in guaranteed money, Kraft made it abundantly clear that he wanted a strong draft and a new presumably young quarterback around whom to build the next generation of success.
Here’s a quote from Kraft in a conference call with reporters:
"“Really, the teams who draft well are the ones who will be consistently good,” Kraft said, based on a transcript provided by the team. “I don’t feel like we’ve done the greatest job the last few years and I really hope and believe I’ve seen a different approach this year.”"
That was a not-so-subtle request (aka mandate) to do better. The results were a terrific draft and a young QB Pro Bowl QB named Mac Jones. That was just fine. Now, Kraft has again gone public lamenting that his Patriots are three years distant from a playoff win.
That’s not a good optic for the football operatives, Hopefully, Kraft’s “suggestion” will be heeded by the football operatives and the rest of free agency (such as it is), and the draft will be a smashing success. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem like that will be the case though.
Patriots have fumbled and bumbled through free agency
Free agency has been a debacle thus far. Aside from re-signing Trent Brown (who should absolutely be their starting left tackle), nothing much has happened to excite the very energetic Patriots fanbase. Actually, there has been nothing much at all save the Brown re-signing.
Last year, the ignominious defeats at the hands and feet of the prodigious Buffalo Bills have rendered their spending moot. It doesn’t matter. All that now matters is this season and thus far, the offseason build-up by the beloved Patriots has been a flop (absent the Brown re-signing).
Absent miraculous free agent signings after the June first cutdown date and a truly monstrous 2022 NFL Patriots draft, the prognosis is very dim. This team as currently constituted is a third-place team in the AFC East and not a playoff team. Hope this is inaccurate, as always when this space has a pessimistic view, yet it is what it is.
Yet, let’s just say there’s a bit more pressure now on the football operation to max out on the draft.
After a poor free agency period, the success or failure of the Patriots will ride on the latter stages of free agency and the draft. That’s not a great outlook for the ravenous Patriots Nation to grasp onto.
This team has flopped in free agency, kept onboard too many mediocre players who could have been released to amass more cap space, and they are unlikely to have as productive a draft as in 2021.
In sum, the outlook isn’t great. Absent a truly miraculous draft by the now Dave Ziegler-less Patriots personnel operation, this team is a third-place club on the way toward the bottom.
Yet, thankfully, there is the Jets who will hopefully continue their decades-long swoon in the division. Absent that, a fall to the bottom might not be the most unrealistic scenario in the world.