After arguably the biggest free agency spending spree by Bill Belichick a retooled offense and a refreshed QB seem to have the Patriots primed for a big 2021. But just how wise is the plan and does it risk derailing the long term success of this once dominant franchise?
It’s an often heard phrase that those who win free agency never win the Super Bowl. But while they didn’t technically win free agency in 2020, the Tampa Bay Bucs certainly laid waste to that argument to a degree. The real reason free agency spending doesn’t work is because it’s usually done out of desperation.
However, with Bill Belichick and the Patriots things seem to have been developed with a cohesive plan that goes against the narrative of desperate spending. In a free agency that was dominated by over-reporting of contract values the real story of the Patriots spring is one of very wise investing.
With the Tom Brady dead cap clearing at the end of the 2020 campaign and the salary cap declining die to COVID-19 closing stadiums in 2020 it left the Patriots primed for an epic rebuild that leaves them on the brink of a fast rebound to the playoffs.
PATRIOTS PRIMED AFTER MAJOR RETOOLING
There were four, yes four, big additions on offence with the signing of the top two tight ends on the market with Hunter Henry (60-613-4) and Jonnu Smith(41-448-8) both signing what really equates to $13-million per year deals, and good 3rd and 4th receiver options in Nelson Agholor(48-896-8) and Kendrick Bourne(49-667-2).
Agholor was certainly overpaid at 2-years and $11-million, but $6-million for Bourne is reasonable. If N’Keal Harry can finally prove worthy of that first-round pick New England spent on him the offense has decent weapons for Cam Newton to find this season.
Newton certainly wasn’t the major issue with that Patriots offense, and before he caught COVID-19 he looked like he might be about to have a stellar year. As it was he had the second highest completion percentage of his career, good for ranking 15th in the NFL, despite throwing most of his passes to the likes of Jakobi Meyers, and Damiere Byrd.
Clearly there was a lot of upgrading needed for an offense that ranked 6th worst in the league with just 20.4ppg. Compare that with their last Super Bowl campaign where they averaged 27.3ppg and ranked 4th and there’s a lot of improvement needed.
PATRIOTS DEFENSE HAS BEEN UPGRADED WHICH IS A SCARY THOUGHT
While the offense has been upgraded, it’s their improved defense that has the Patriots primed for a speedy bounce back to the playoffs. Despite a spluttering offense the Patriots defense still ranked 6th in the NFL conceding just 20.4ppg.
Adding Matt Judon, Jalen Mills, and returning Kyle Van Noy will clearly improve the defense, as will the returning COVID-19 opt-outs of D’Onta Hightower, Patrick Chung. With Bill Belichick being one of the leagues all-time greatest defensive minds this is a scary re-tooling.
Despite having a down season that had many pundits heralding the demise of the dynasty after the departure of Super Bowl perennial QB Tom Brady, things actually don’t look too bad for New England when we look a bit deeper.
With the Patriots primed for a returning to winning football and a playoff spot, it’s still hard to see them competing for a Super Bowl unless they can add more genuine talent at the WR position in the draft.
Still don’t think this defence has the Patriots primed for another run? Consider that, despite popular opinion it was the defense that won Brady’s first two Super Bowls and shut down the greatest show on turf while Brady put up only 145 yards in the big game.
Beware of writing off Bill Belichick, the greatest feat may yet be to come.