Christian Barmore extension a positive signal for the Patriots' future

Pats reverse another of Bill Belichick's mistaken personnel policies
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Fox Sports has reported on an emerging New England Patriots personnel trend that signals another major departure from Bill Belichick's policy. It centers on the unusual contract extension given to Christian Barmore, a third-year player, before his contract ran out.

Here's what Fox had to say,

"The Patriots have made a major effort to keep their budding stars happy despite a 4-13 season in 2023. They've gone the no-nonsense route of paying them big sums of money. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore is the latest example. On Monday, the Patriots signed Barmore, a 2021 second-round pick, to a massive four-year extension worth up to $92 million."

Re-signing your best young players to extensions before they hit free agency should be a normal course of events, but it wasn't in New England under Bill Belichick. Instead, the player and team went into free agency, and often the disgruntled player left. It was dysfunctional at best and injured the team's chances at worst.

Why Patriots' brinkmanship with young players worked for 20 years

Personnel mismanagement can be obscured if you have the best quarterback in history leading your team. Tom Brady, the Great Safety Valve, covered up the team's personnel mismanagement for 20 years. He is a luxury the team doesn't have now.

Brady papered over numerous questionable personnel decisions by general manager Bill Belichick. He made solid players out of average players, Pro Bowlers out of good ones, and All-Pros out of the best.

With Brady now firmly in the rearview mirror (only as a player, unless he makes a dramatic comeback), the team needed to move on and change course with its best young players. Since it's such a stark deviation from 20 years of history, it was questionable whether this and/or any other shoddy personnel policies would persist after Belichick's departure.

To his credit, de facto interim general manager Eliot Wolf has done the right thing. He's scrapped several of Belichick's worst policies and gone in a refreshing new direction. These counter-cultural moves will serve Wolf well in the competition for the permanent head of football operations position.

The Patriots' re-signing their best players early makes all the sense in the world

Wolf's re-signing of current solid players like safety Kyle Dugger, offensive lineman Mike Onwenu, and now Barmore is an excellent signal for the future. In the case of the Dugger and Onwenu, however, re-signing them after their four-year rookie deal is essentially over, which is a good sign but not optimal. Wait that long, and you'll have to overpay, which they did.

Barmore's extension after three years is a better step. In the future, the optimum move will be to identify these players after two years and then sign the best one. This makes great sense for several reasons.

First, it gives the young players security in their football careers. This is a really big positive two years out from being a free agent. The player can then concentrate on being all he can be on the field and not worry about contact issues.

Secondly, it's also a big positive for the team. Stepping up early will give you a more team-friendly deal than you'll get after year four. It will be a plus in your team-building and, eventually, on the bottom line, cap space. Again, this is only for your best young players who, absent injury, you've identified as top NFL talents.

Thirdly, it also sets a good precedent for young players like Keion White to play all out their first two years to get early security themselves. It demonstrates the team cares about its young stars and will treat them right financially.

Eliot Wolf is on the right track. Unfortunately, with Dugger and Onwenu and somewhat with Barmore, he's had to clean up Belichick's mistakes that were financially costly. As time progresses, however, he can implement this sensible policy earlier and get things on a proper footing.

It's nice to see the Patriots evolving positively in personnel administration. It's been a long time coming.

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