The Patriots are projected to have nearly $50 million in salary cap space next offseason. Should they be big spenders when the time arrives? The 2023 offseason is likely going to be a massive turning point for the franchise. Depending on how the 2022 season goes, the team might decide to go in a totally different direction.
If the Patriots impress in 2022 and perhaps make the playoffs or come very close, that might make it more likely that they stick to their current trend and try to further build up their roster. If the team takes a step back this season, we could see wholesale changes, and I think it would start with Bill Belichick, as unlikely as it sounds now.
Belichick has been far from perfect in his general manager duties. He’s missed on his share of draft picks and has swung for the fences in free agency, but not every decision has panned out. While he seemed to have been able to draft the next franchise quarterback in Mac Jones, the overall roster is solid, but isn’t nearly good enough to hang around in the loaded AFC.
We don’t typically see the Patriots spend a ton of money in free agency, but the 2021 offseason was different. Now, the team is projected to have a ton of cap space in 2023, and they seem to again have an opportunity to spend big.
On the one hand, if they want to stick with Mac Jones, spending a ton of money and trying to make big moves might be the smartest decision, regardless of how the season plays out. The Los Angeles Chargers are a great example of this. Even though they completely missed the playoffs in 2021, they were hyper active in free agency this offseason, loading up their roster and becoming Super Bowl contenders.
However, I wouldn’t feel 100% confident in Bill Belichick being able to make the correct moves in this instance. There could be a weird situation developing. If the Patriots miss the playoffs and regress in 2022, that might be a perfect opportunity to perhaps turn the page with the Belichick era, and would allow the franchise to bring in legitimate general manager and new head coach. And given the roster, it would be smart for the new regime to spend some money in free agency.
If the Patriots have a similar season in 2022 to what they had in 2021, that might allow Bill Belichick to stay in his current positions, and again would give him the opportunity to spend in free agency. With Mac Jones entering year two of his rookie contract, and having a fifth year option, I think there’s a chance that the New England Patriots end up spending big next offseason as well.
Again, I reference the Chargers. They don’t have to pay Justin Herbert yet, so they’re spending a ton of money in the meantime. Teams frequently do this, so I think no matter who is running the organization in 2023 and beyond, we’ll again see the Patriots spend in free agency.
Another point to make here is that, while Mac Jones appears to be a good quarterback, he clearly isn’t and may never be on the level of guys like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert. The Patriots might have to surround Jones with a stronger roster if they want to compete.
But then, that brings up another question of if the Patriots should stick with Mac Jones…