An ongoing theme in the NFL over the past decades has been Patriots head coach Bill Belichick running circles around the rest of the league’s executives and dominating free agency — but not this year.
Belichick is known for sitting around and waiting for the free-agent market to thin a bit, while rival teams sit around and overpay the big-name guys, awarding contracts that set themselves up for salary cap issues in future years, and letdowns in terms of expectations. But not Belichick, as he’s known for convincing guys to sign value, team-friendly deals, often for only one or two years. A big reason is because veterans are excited about the possibility of playing for Belichick, and alongside Tom Brady, which gives them a great chance at winning a Super Bowl ring. The two have, after all, won six titles since the turn of the century — a feat that will never again be achieved in such a short span.
But Tom Brady is now gone, having signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and all bets are off.
The Patriots still have Belichick, but players know that he’s a disciplinarian, and not many guys are looking to sign up to play there anymore, given that the quarterback position went from their biggest strength to their biggest weakness, with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham — who’s never played a snap in the NFL — currently positioned to be the starter.
And yet, for some reason, even with a bevy of free-agent quarterbacks on the market, the Patriots elected to sign none of them. Both Cam Newton (sign) and Andy Dalton (trade) were available, and still are, but Belichick stood pat. They’ll likely make a play at some point, but one would think they’d want to get their signal-caller before the draft, unless they plan to select a young prospect out of college, which would signal that they’re re-tooling their roster, and will likely take a step back in terms of their record.
Sportsbooks must agree, as the Patriots were the favorite to win the Super Bowl last season. Now, according to the latest odds, they’re listed further down the list than they ever have been, at 18-to-1, so you can get a nice price if you cash in on this BetMGM bonus offer and get a wager down on them.
We would advise against doing so, though, as the Patriots were the biggest losers of any team in free agency. Most importantly, they lost their franchise quarterback — who’s regarded as the greatest of all time — of the past 20 years.
But that’s not all, either, as the Patriots lost both coaches and players over the past few months.
Most importantly, they lost special teams coordinator Joe Judge, who was known as the team’s top assistant, and Belichick’s right-hand man. He’s added to the list of coordinators — joining Matt Patricia and Brian Flores — the team has lost over the past few years. Judge signed with the Giants to become their head coach, and it’s clear that he’s learned plenty from Belichick over the years.
As far as players go, the Patriots lost veteran leaders Danny Shelton and Jamie Collins, both of whom joined Patricia on the Lions. Not only that, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts signed with the Dolphins, reuniting with Flores. Ted Karras signed with the team as well.
This is the biggest transition and roster turnover Belichick has had since he took over as head coach in 2000, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team performs this season. And while it might sound crazy to say, we actually believe that the Patriots will miss the playoffs in 2020, which they’ve done only twice in the past 20 years under Belichick, with one of those coming when Tom Brady tore his ACL in the first game of the season back in 2008.
The Patriots will take a step back this year — bank on it.