Eliot Wolf's job as the Patriots' general manager appears to be at stake

Interesting development in personnel after free agency and the draft
2024 NFL Draft - Portraits
2024 NFL Draft - Portraits / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

In an interesting if not down-right surprising development, cbssport.com is reporting that the Patriots are still searching for a "head of football operations." Here's what they had to say about this very compelling topic,

"Sources tell CBS Sports the Patriots are moving forward with a search for their next top football executive, a role that would amount to what's typically known in the NFL as a general manager. It's unclear what the title would be, but sources believe the position would outrank all other football positions in the building."

If that's not a curiosity, what is? Before the offseason, the team indicated its intention to evaluate the current personnel team and then make a decision after. Nevertheless, it comes as quite a surprise they may actually do it.

Patriots' odd decision to roll with the "old team" after firing Bill Belichick

The Patriots' decision to retain the personnel team, headed by Eliot Wolf and assembled by dismissed Bill Belichick, was a bizarre one. Why? Belichick's poor personnel decision-making likely got him broomed. Nonetheless, owner Robert Kraft decided to stick with Belichick's backups in the most important offseason in thirty years.

The other option was to conduct a brief search of the "usual suspects," aka established, experienced NFL personnel men or even top analysts like ESPN's Louis Riddick. He didn't, and the offseason is now in the books.

The grades here for that entire effort by Wolf, essentially completed now after free agency and the draft, are as follows. First, Wolf spent big money in free agency to retain the team's better free agents, tackle Mike Onwenu, safety Kyle Dugger, and tight end Hunter Henry. Less inspiring were his bringing back edge Joshua Uche and linebacker Anfernee Jennings.

Offseasons should be geared toward improving the team. These signings didn't improve it one iota from the dismal 2023 version. In addition, Wolf also didn't add difference-makers on offense or anywhere else in free agency. The grade, therefore, for his free agency, was a gift C.

The draft left the next head of football operations in question

In the draft, Wolf started great. He did what astute observers suggested and also what his boss wanted. He chose the best quarterback available at pick No. 3, Drake Maye. It earned a high grade here (A+). It was spot on.

After Maye, Wolf drafted solidly in one respect; he drafted for the team's greatest need, offense, which was a welcome change from Belichick's obtuse drafting. But how did he do on part two of the equation, selecting the best players?

There, he had mixed results. He reached, aka took players higher than the consensus, and felt they should be taken (a Bill Belichick specialty) on several players. Depending on who you listen to, third and fourth-round picks, offensive right tackle, Caedan Wallace (not a left tackle), and Javon Baker
(a possible find) may have been reaches.

Whatever they become, Wolf and company's overarching mistake was not addressing the second most important position on the team: the offensive left tackle. He had an opportunity in the second round and passed. This massive omission could again consign the Patriots to last place in the AFC East.

These gaffes lowered Wolf's overall draft grade to a tepid B- here, rescued only by two factors. First, Wolf did the right thing in drafting Drake Maye as his future quarterback. Second, unlike Belichick, he drafted almost exclusively for offense, the greatest team need.

The result of all this could be another last-place AFC East finish unless Drake Maye runs the offense and confounds the entire AFC East and NFL. It's possible if he's given the keys from Day One. If not, expect that last-place finish and a high draft pick in 2025. That's exactly what you get due to poor personnel decision-making.

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