Bill Belichick took a major gamble when he let Tom Brady become a free agent, and he faced intense scrutiny, but to him, it wasn’t a gamble, and he doesn’t care about scrutiny at all. He knew that he could build a contender for years to come if he executed his plan.
When Belichick drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft, he stunned many people because they already had Brady. Using a second-round pick on a quarterback from Eastern Illinois was odd. He did so because he sought the most valuable asset in the NFL; a good quarterback on a rookie contract. Now seven years later, he has his wish, Mac Jones is on a rookie contract for four years, and the future looks promising.
The New England Patriots had a plan to allocate a certain amount of money to each position. They decided that spending $25 million on the quarterback was detrimental to building the rest of the team. They would rather be solid at all positions than be exceptional at quarterback and weak in one area. Like most strategies used by Belichick, it’s a bold contrast to the rest of the league.
Bill Belichick Took a Major Gamble
Having Jones playing at a high level on a rookie contract is crucial for the Patriots. It allowed them the financial mobility and salary cap space to acquire better players, like Matt Judon, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith. It’s not just about having better players; it’s about building depth and what Belichick can do with these multi-dimensional players.
As owners, the Kraft family will undoubtedly look for a good return on their investment, but not just in a financial form; they seek wins. They gave Belichick the ability to spend the most guaranteed money in free-agency history; over $162 million. With the salary cap going down for the first time in a decade, most teams were light on cash, but the Patriots had a lot of it, and they pounced on the opportunity. “It’s like investing in the stock market,” Robert Kraft explained. 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.”
The free-agent and drafted players Belichick brought in, are under contract for several years or more. Judon and Smith are under four-year contracts, while Bourne and Henry have three-year contracts. Three to four years is certainly enough time for Belichick to rebuild a perpetual Super-Bowl contender; he may be there already. When it comes to the draft, they are now taking a “more collaborative approach,” as opposed to Belichick having all the say, and it’s working; this was their most successful draft in a long time.
It appears they have found their franchise quarterback and perhaps the steal of the draft in Jones. They also stole Christain Barmore and Rhamondre Stevenson. Barmore is a very disruptive and versatile defensive tackle from Alabama, and Stevenson may be the best running back on the team. He is a battering ram with legs out of Oklahoma, and they’re both under four-year contracts. The Patriots appear to have sustainability with rookies and free agents playing at a high level and under contract for the foreseeable future.
It remains to be seen if Belichick can sustain this success, but it sure looks that way. After just one bad season, the Patriots are already the top seed in the AFC. It’s what we have come to see and expect from him since the 2001 season. There are two questions though, what does sustained success look like, and will the fans be happy if the team were only to make the playoffs in each of the next four seasons but not win a Super Bowl? It sounds good to some, but to others, it’s painful, especially since Brady went out and won a Super Bowl right away and is now marching towards another one.
With Brady, the Patriots were one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl every year, and with that bold decision, the future became uncertain for a while. That’s the gamble Belichick took; he gave up being a Super Bowl favorite every year until Brady retired for a rebuild. The team took a step backward to go forward, and now they have risen from the ashes again to wreak havoc on the league for years to come. He did it because he sought the most valuable asset in the NFL, a good quarterback, on a rookie contract, in order to sustain success.
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