When it comes to building his roster, Bill Belichick is as unpredictable as they come. Some years he is extremely aggressive in targeting some of the biggest names on the market (Adalius Thomas, Stephon Gilmore) and others he stockpiles younger, less proven players.
This year seems to be the latter as the Patriots have added plenty of names but other than the deal that brought Michael Bennett to town most have sent fans scurrying to various websites to learn about their new players.
The thing that separates Belichick from the rest of his fellow coaches is he generally succeeds with both approaches. Back in 2007 the Patriots high-profile acquisitions resulted in a perfect regular season and a trip to the Super Bowl. Gilmore’s arrival in 2017 also resulted in a Super Bowl appearance, as did last season’s active spring that saw the likes of Cordarrelle Patterson, Jason McCourty, Danny Shelton and Adrian Clayborn come to New England.
Other years have been a tad slower, yet the Patriots still managed six titles and nine overall trips to the big game. So, “successful” springs aren’t always necessary for successful seasons.
With that in mind, the Patriots additions thus far haven’t been household names. So, this week’s Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Are you disappointed in the Patriots start to free agency thus far?
PFW’s Andy Hart says …
I’ll start by saying I really like the addition of Michael Bennett. It was pretty clear that Trey Flowers was going to a get a big-money contract from someone, and the Patriots weren’t likely going to be able to match it. So, they needed to find a quality defensive end to come in and help replace him and Bennett should be a solid addition to the pass rush.
But I’m less enthusiastic about the rest of the moves, which seem to consist of unheralded players who have yet to make much of a splash in the NFL. In year’s past, Belichick liked to find former first-round picks who were looking for fresh starts. This year there are undrafted players and others who weren’t tendered by their former teams being signed.
There’s still a lot of time left for the Patriots to make moves and the roster will continue to take shape through the draft and other avenues, but so far the start to free agency has been underwhelming.
PFW’s Paul Perillo says …
Given the Patriots available cap space heading into free agency, I wasn’t expecting Belichick to go on one of his spending sprees like the last couple of years. I’m a little disappointed that the Patriots didn’t add Adam Humphries, who I felt would be a nice fit in the slot with Julian Edelman, but they couldn’t make it happen.
Otherwise, I like the move to bring in Bennett, who should help minimize the loss of Flowers and add to the pass rush. The team added some depth pieces in areas of need (tight end, wide receiver, defensive tackle) and I’d be surprised if at least of few of them don’t pan out and emerge as contributors.
Plus, the team still has 12 draft picks at its disposal and Belichick will find players who will continue to address the areas of need. The start to free agency may not have been terribly exciting but there are still plenty of moves to come.