New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose team went on a free-agent splurge that broke the NFL record for guaranteed money spent on signings, described the aggressive approach as strategic.
“It’s like investing in the stock market,” Kraft said, according to the “Football Morning In America” column. “You take advantage of corrections and inefficiencies in the market when you can, and that’s what we did here. We’ll see. Nothing is guaranteed, and I’m very cognizant of that. But we’re not in the business to be in business. We’re in this business to win.”
Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994 for $172 million. In signing 19 free agents, some of whom played on the Patriots last year, he doled out about $162.5 million in guaranteed money (a number that will grow as details of a few more deals become known).
The richest deals, in terms of guaranteed money, were given to former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon ($32 million), former Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith ($31.25 million) and former Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry ($25 million).
Kraft said: “In my 27 years as owner, I’ve never had to come up with so much capital before.”
Kraft explained that the Patriots’ abundant salary-cap space set the stage for the spending. Also, “instead of having 10 or 12 teams competing for most of the top players, there were only two or three” — a result of the NFL’s salary cap having dropped from $198.2 million to $182.5 million because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, coach Bill Belichick had said in a statement: “We are excited about the additions to our roster so far this year. Whether by trade, free agency or re-signings, the group brings a good mix of offense, defense and special teams. It was great to see them in the building, including some familiar faces, and we are all looking forward to continue building toward the upcoming season.”
The Patriots, playing without quarterback Tom Brady for the first time in two decades, went 7-9 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Kraft shared his first public thoughts on Brady winning the Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.
“Well, I was really happy for him,” Kraft told SI. “He’s a great guy and he gave us 20 wonderful years, and he made the choice to do what he wanted to do. Look, I wasn’t that happy to see him leave, but we gave him that opportunity to do it. And I want to say if we’re not going to win, and someone’s got to do it, I’m happy for him. He deserves it.”
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