Patriots Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh
July 26, 2023
Q: What is it like to be back and what do you think of the competition of the roster as you get ready to get through camp?
MG: My wife would probably tell you I don't know how much we left. There is always constantly work going on, it was nice to get away, get a little vacation in, but we are always working here trying to find ways to get better, the league doesn't stop for summer. It would be great if it did, but it doesn't. We keep finding ways to try and improve the team constantly every day of the year.
Q: You guys had dalliances with DeAndre Hopkins. From your view, how did that show with the offer that you guys made that he didn't sign it?
MG: We explore every option that is out there. DeAndre became available pretty early on in the spring. Obviously, there were reports even before he was released. We spent time working on it. We exhaust every option. We had him in here and talked to him. Look, everybody has got a chance to get in it right now. You look at the salary cap, basically anybody can make anything work right now. You just move some things around and get creative, so I know we were one of the teams mentioned that was most prevalent, but we exhausted our options and did what we thought made the most sense.
Q: You have a bunch of cap space now, a bunch of cap space for next year, and a number of guys who had gone under contract and have expiring ones. Is this a good opportunity, this time of year, to try and explore opportunities to extend?
MG: We are always in conversations, just like earlier in the summer. We took care of a couple of the guys who were going to be up next year. There are only so many of us. We can only get so many guys done at a time. There is a lot of time and effort that's put into it by our end, contractually, and trying to do everything that makes sense. We will keep looking at different options. I like taking care of business, so there is not a whole lot of sitting around and waiting for things to happen. We are trying to be pretty proactive with things.
Q: You guys do have a lot of guys entering their last year of their contract, what's that dynamic like for the football team?
MG: There are always going to be guys. If you've got a high-profile guy, contracts are going to be a part of every offseason and at a certain point you have got to knuckle down and focus on the season at hand. A lot of that stuff is going to take care of itself. Trying to get contracts done right now, you don't have all the information, the player has got another season, where you potentially don't know if his production is going to be high or low. There are a lot of factors that go into it, health, durability, role on the team, leadership. So, with a whole nother season to go, it makes it tricky trying to gauge the market at these times, but when we think that we can do that and obviously the player and his representatives think that we can do that, then it is smart to try and get something done.
Q: You are one of the cheapest teams in the league in terms of cast spent last year, why is that?
MG: I haven't been spending money for too long here, so I really only know what's been going on the last couple of years. We've been aggressive in trying to get things done and we always try to and at every player's contract and see how it fits together with the team. It's not just each individual contract; you've got to manage the locker room and be cognizant of what is going on with each player and how that fits at their position, side of the ball and the locker room as a whole.
Q: What are you expecting Juju Smith-Schuster to bring to the offense this year?
MG: We are really excited to have JuJu. It's good to see him out here today. He has been working, the guy loves ball, the guy wants to compete and the guy is tough. I know we are used to seeing those kinds of players at his position around here, so I don't think with having JuJu in here, it's a new face and a new name, but I don't think that it will be a big deviation from what people around here are accustomed to seeing.
Q: Could you see him having a roll like [Julian] Edelman, [Wes] Welker and some of those guys?
MG: He is JuJu, he's not Julian, he's not any of these other guys. He's got the production and the career to stand amongst himself. JuJu is JuJu. He's going to go out here and be himself and I look forward to seeing him have a productive season.
Q: You guys have a big decision to make at the end of this year for Mac Jones, what do you need to see from him this year to pick up that fifth-year option?
MG: It's the same thing with everybody, go out and compete. It's the same thing with me, find ways to get better every day. This is day one, so we are going to take today, he's got to get better the next day just like we all have to get better. We have a whole season of unknown to sit here and try and make some kind of decision off of an incomplete story. It's a long way away.
Q: Given the importance of that position, how important is it for you guys to make a decision moving forward whether he is the guy you build around or not?
MG: Yeah, I mean we'll just have to take this year as it is. We've got two other years to go by. Those last two years just don't get forgotten, that's all part of building the portfolio, and we're so far away from making any of those kinds of decisions.
Q: When you hear the phrase No. 1 wide receiver, what's your definition of a No. 1 wide receiver?
MG: In scouting, we typically define a No. 1 wide receiver who is a three-down guy. If that plater has inside-outside, outside-inside versatility, that's great, but it's a player who can go out there — it's typically an X — who we think of as a guy who can go out there and get open on his own. The hallmarks that we have here are get open, catch the ball, and gain yards after the catch. The more that they can do size-wise, to be involved in the run game, that's all important as well.
Q: By your definition, do the Patriots have a central player right now, or is it just more general talent-wise, that you think of?
MG: I think we've got a great group. I know Troy, Coach Brown, and Ross, Coach Douglas, are working hard with those guys and I'm really excited about what they're going to be able to do with those guys and working with the quarterbacks. It's all about coming together. It's not having this position or this position, by definition, there's a sign around here that's been hanging for some time that says, 'We're not collecting talent, we're trying to build a team'. I don't know, however you want to define it, we've got to put the best team together that we think is going to marry with what Coach [Bill] O'Brien and Coach [Bill] Belichick want for our offensive philosophy.
Q: Do you consider yourself still in the running for Dalvin Cook?
MG: Again, we talked to DeAndre Hopkins, that's well known. We explore as many options as we can. Dalvin's another player, this is a really, really unique situation with both of these players – you don't typically have players of this caliber available at this time. The contracts that are signed for players right now are nowhere near in the neighborhood of the contracts that these players are generally expected to sign. Usually these are all minimum guys, with splits. So this is a unique situation, and in any unique situation, I think everybody evaluates and looks at it. With Dalvin, we saw firsthand last year going up to Minnesota on Thanksgiving – which was great to spend Thanksgiving in Minnesota – I saw Dalvin firsthand and what he can do.
Q: You were asked about spending earlier. If the team spending is down relative to the rest of the league, what does that say about maybe the team's immediate goals for the season?
MG: Yeah, I don't think our goals are ever going to change around here. There are expectations. Look, we fully intend on going out there and competing, and we're doing everything that we can to achieve the highest level of success. That's the standard; the standard's not going to change. That's the standard I'm held to. That's the standard that everybody around here is held to. I don't think I could function somewhere where that wasn't the standard. It would be very difficult. Look, I love summer and spending time with my family, and don't get me wrong I do that – you know that firsthand, Phil – but we work around here. This is a place where if you love ball, this is the place for you. If you go somewhere else, and you think you can just coast on by, then this isn't the place for you. With that comes a certain amount of work, and when you put that amount of work in, you want to see some results.
Q: What's your read on Mike Gesicki? You already had Hunter [Henry] on the roster, so what do you expect from him?
MG: Yeah, I don't think you can have too many good players on your team. I don't think you can have too many good players at one position. Things happen really quickly in this league. Great to have Hunter; great to add another player like Mike. I think they'll work really well together, and both work really well together with Mac. They're not the only two guys in that room either. I think we've worked hard at trying to put together a good room there. Will, Coach Lawing, is doing a great job of working with those guys, so you just can't have too many good players anywhere.
Q: Is that a unique situation with Mike, where coming from Miami, maybe with their system changes, where you guys have an opportunity to get a little bit more out of him?
MG: You mean, from when Coach [Mike] McDaniel came there last year?
MG: Yeah, we're certainly familiar with Mike [Gesicki] from coming out in college, and Coach O'Brien recruited him, seeing him twice every year, so we know everything that he can do. That's not just against us. We watch every game that the Dolphins are playing in preparation, so we've seen a lot of Mike Gesicki and all of those players in our division.
Q: You've worked out a couple of veteran running backs recently. Was that reflective of what the team would like to add? Would you like to add another veteran to the mix, especially after releasing James Robinson?
MG: You can never have too many good players on your team. We've worked out a couple of running backs; we've worked out some different positions here, more or less. We're going to continue to work out players, just like every team in the league is doing. That's, again, just going back to exploring every possibility that we can to make this as strong a roster as possible. You know, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year. I don't think they're saying, oh we're good. They're trying to find ways to get better.
Q: When talking about adding free agents and the talent that's still out there right now, why do you believe that Foxborough is still an attractive destination in the NFL?
MG: Because I think guys who love football know that this is a place for guys who love football. There are guys out there that like to work, that like to put in the time. I think that they know that the locker room that they're going to be coming into, there's going to be other like-minded guys. Just like it would be difficult for me to go somewhere else and have to adapt to that culture, you know, once you're institutionalized. It's tough. Once you've become institutionalized and you know a certain way about going about your business – it's not the only way, by any means, and there's other ways of doing things that can have tremendous results. This is kind of the way that I know. This is what I grew up around as a kid. If you love football, this is the place to be.