In one of the most exciting offseasons in recent memory, with the Browns now looking like Super Bowl contenders and the Steelers suddenly competing for last place with the Bengals, the defending champs have been awfully quiet. Key free agents Trey Flowers and Trent Brown received massive contracts for the Lions and Raiders respectively, and New England has mostly sat on the sidelines, letting Cordarrelle Patterson, Malcolm Brown, and others walk. If there’s one thing the Patriot faithful should have learned by now, it’s to trust in the hoodie. But why are the Patriots seemingly missing out on this extremely busy free agency?
1. Limited Cap Space
The Patriots don’t tend to go into the offseason with much cap space, but this number is lower this year than it is most. Due to Brady’s contract restructuring over the past few seasons, his cap hit this year is much larger than his salary reflects (15 million salary vs 27 million cap hit (Boston Globe)). It would not be surprising to see another contract restructure between Brady and the Pats to help clear up some space (they just restructured with Gilmore), but many of the top free agents are signed at this point.
2. No Major Needs
While it seems like the Patriots may have major roster gaps (particularly at receiver and defensive line), the Pats have more than enough draft picks to fill these needs. Couple this with the fact that one of the few moves they did make was to resign Josh Gordon (indicating that they believe he will come back), they really don’t need to make any flashy signings. If last season showed anything, it’s that New England can win with far less talent than other teams as long as TB12 and Bill are at the helm. A large draft class picked by one of the best talent evaluators of all time will surely have some gems that can help carry this team next season.
3. Everyone is Overpriced
I’m sure that the Patriots wanted to keep Trent Brown and Trey Flowers. But does Trent Brown deserved to be the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history? The same thing happened with Nate Soldier last season, and he turned out to be the 21st ranked offensive tackle by PFF last year. Bill knows what players are worth, and he certainly wasn’t going to dish out $66 million over four years to an above average offensive lineman. The Patriots are built on getting efficiency for every dollar, and that doesn’t happen by dishing out monster contracts for one year of good performance.