Patriots lay a big goose egg in free agency with no top additions

Bill Belichick's system stays in place without Bill.
Washington Commanders v Los Angeles Rams
Washington Commanders v Los Angeles Rams / Harry How/GettyImages

The New England Patriots are knee-deep into free agency (or maybe ankle-deep is more appropriate). They have delved into free agency's waters and have hardly gotten wet, at least for game-changing players.

The new general manager-in-training, Eliot Wolf, has entered the scene, but the script has remained about the same as it was under Bill Belichick, who is hardly a general manager for Wolf to try to emulate. Belichick was a poor GM and Wolf seems to be following right in his steps. It can't be looked upon as a good sign for owner Robert Kraft, he of the bad decision-making Robert Kraft persona.

Except on rare occasions, Belichick was wont to bottom-feed in free agency. He tried to find gold, whereas others found coal. On most occasions, that didn't work out too well for either him or the team.

However, when one has the man who's called here, the Great Safety Valve, that would be Tom Brady, at your disposal, then all kinds of personnel flops were papered over for two decades. Brady left, and now so has Belichick. The team is in Eliot Wolf's hands.

Patriot's de facto GM Wolf is playing Belichick's game in free agency

Eliot Wolf had a chance to enter the scene and dramatically alter the New England Patriots modus operandi in personnel. It needed a sea change, and Wolf's unfortunately given it a small pond change if any aquatic movement at all. His free agency track record to date has been blah.

Wolf reportedly or supposedly had money to burn or spend, however you choose to describe it. Instead of going big on several top players, he's bottom-fed, a la his partial mentor, Belichick, and added mediocrity in abundance. All that strategy ultimately leads to is mediocrity all around.

Wolf needed a quarterback this offseason. One of the top three in the draft (yet to be seen) will be there for the taking. Yet, he mystifyingly goes out and spends eight million dollars on a journeyman backup, Jacoby Brissett. (The team last year failed to sign the Jacobi they should have; that would be Meyers). That much for a backup QB is not just not a good allocation of resources. It's horrendous.

If that signing signals that Brissett will be the starter, it's hopeless from the start, and pencil in (in ink) the Pats for another last-place finish. In addition, Wolf has added an offensive tackle in Chukwuma Okorafor. Instead of going for the best available, he settled for, admittedly, at least a youngish 26-year-old player who's started in the past. But he's no left tackle, and he's a back-up. More cash wasted.

No other Patriots' free agent signings get anyone excited

Wolf's other signings also don't make waves in Patriot Nation or anywhere else in the AFC East or NFL. They are blah signings. He did re-sign Kyle Dugger to the Transition tag and big money, but is he worth that bag of cash? Not really.

He also gave Mike Onwenu (who should have been signed to an extension two years ago) left tackle money, a $57M deal to play right tackle or guard. He's a good player but not worth the cash that Wolf splashed on him. And that signing doesn't make the Pats one iota better.

He re-signed two linebackers who could easily have been let go, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings. Both are one-year wonders who've shown no consistency in four years in the NFL. Also retained were Hunter Henry, a mid-level tight end but at 29 years of not getting any younger, and Austin Hooper, another decent tight end, who should have been signed several years ago, also 29.

Both are OK, but they haven't gotten much better there again. It's essentially the status quo. Also re-signed was injured goods Kendrick Bourne. Again, he's legitimate, not outstanding, and he's coming off a serious injury, and who knows when/if he'll be at full strength.

The other additions also fail to move the needle much, if at all, in improving the 2024 Patriots' outlook. As much as the Patriot's Boston media gurus try to put a positive spin on all this, it boils down to one thing in free agency thus far. It's called more of the same old, same old. And that ain't good enough.

Eliot Wolf has started his Patriots career with a thud. He's done little, if anything, to improve the team's outlook for 2024 or beyond. Isn't that what the offseason is supposed to be all about?

We hoped for a different outlook and strategy; what we got is deja vu all over again of the Belichick years when quantity of mediocrity was favored over quality and scouting prowess. Now there's only the draft left for Wolf to show any difference.

We'll see if he gets it, or not, next month. Don't be shocked if it's more of the same old, same old.

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