By now, you either trust Bill Belichick or you don’t.
I’m Team Belichick. Another round of Kool-aid on me. Drink up. My tab’s open.
Seems like a yearly ritual, where I have to still try and convince some in New England that Belichick knows what he’s doing. He does have a plan.
And most of the time, his plan has proven to be better than anyone else’s. Which is starting to put this Patriots Kool-aid in the same category as a fine red wine, getting better with age.
As a new league year begins in the NFL this week, so does free agency. The plan, so far, is once again a value-play by Belichick, the coach and GM of the reigning and defending Super Bowl champions. He puts emotions aside, sets a certain value on a player, and acts accordingly. If another team offers that player more than what Belichick sees as that player’s value, then it’s up to the player to decide, “Do I go for another ring, or do I take the money?”
Defensive end Trey Flowers and offensive lineman Trent Brown took the money.
And let me be clear. Good for them. They earned it. I will never crush a pro athlete for taking the big payday. Especially in the NFL.
Flowers signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Detroit Lions, which includes $56 million guaranteed, with $40 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Brown signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Oakland Raiders, which includes $36.75 million guaranteed, making him the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
Both players are just 25 years young, but the Patriots can be criticized more for losing Flowers, who totaled 21 sacks in 45 games over the last three seasons. That’s not to say losing their offensive tackle should be completely ignored, but Brown — who replaced a formidable Nate Solder — was here for just one year, and if anything, it proved once again that offensive-line coach Dante Scarnecchia is an absolute wizard.
Everyone in New England should feel confident that Scarnecchia can coach up another lineman to protect Tom Brady’s back side at a respectable level. Much like everyone in New England should feel that same confidence in Belichick’s ability to make the right decisions in free agency.
Call it a “straw man” argument if you’d like, but every single offseason I see people here and there start whining and complaining when Belichick lets good players sign elsewhere and stays put while everyone else gets nuts.
Belichick hasn’t gone after Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Le’Veon Bell, Earl Thomas, or any other superstar player who’s been available in either a trade or free agency in the early stages of this new league year. Instead, he traded a 2020 fifth-round pick to Philadelphia for veteran defensive end Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-rounder. He re-signed veteran cornerback Jason McCourty to a two-year deal. He re-signed veteran running back Brandon Bolden to a two-year deal. And he re-signed linebacker John Simon.
Again, he knows what he’s doing. Much like he knew what he was doing when he was actually aggressive two years ago by signing Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million deal with $40 million guaranteed on the first day of free agency. While it was a head-scratcher to some, it looks like Belichick got that one right, as Gilmore has proven to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL since signing with the Patriots.
And his “got that one right” list goes on and on. Has he made some mistakes? Sure. Who doesn’t.
But Belichick has made the right moves much more often than not. Enough to where I’m comfortable putting my trust in him once again this offseason.
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