Bill Belichick helped build the greatest dynasty in professional sports, leading the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl titles and nine AFC championships from 2001 to 2018. But the times are changing, and if you ask Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran, Belichick still hasn't properly adjusted.
The Patriots are 25-26 (including postseason) since Tom Brady's departure in March 2020 and have missed the playoffs twice in the last three seasons. The 2022 campaign was a disaster, as Belichick's decision to replace departed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with first-time offensive play-caller Matt Patricia backfired spectacularly.
There's some optimism for 2023 after New England hired veteran offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, but eyebrows were raised Tuesday when the Las Vegas Raiders reportedly signed the Patriots' leading wide receiver from last season, Jakobi Meyers, to a three-year, $ 33 million contract.
Patriots Talk: An airing of Jakobi Meyers' grievances | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube
Based on Meyers' reported market, it sounds like Belichick and the Patriots didn't go out of their way to bring Meyers back. As Curran noted Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition, that's a similar mindset that led to Brady's exit in 2020.
"You go where they're holding the door open for you, just the same way with (Tom) Brady," Curran said, as seen in the video player above. "... They told him they couldn't go past $ 22.5 million on the cap. He went to Tampa Bay for $ 25 million, won a Super Bowl, and got back to the playoffs the next year. It's the same thing."
If you ask Curran, there seems to be a disconnect between Patriots owner Robert Kraft's sense of urgency around improving the team and Belichick's approach to the offseason.
"I just think there's a very cavalier attitude that we see seeping continuously from Bill Belichick's office," Curran said. "Meanwhile, the ownership group is pounding the table and saying, 'We're urgent here,' and Bill is saying, 'Eh, we'll cobble it together with the coaching staff. Eh, you know what, we've got $ 30 million (in cap space), what are we gonna do? We'll get Calvin Anderson.'"
Anderson, a former Denver Broncos offensive tackle reportedly added Tuesday, is the Patriots' only outside signing in free agency to date, with several big names already off the board.
There's still plenty of time for Belichick's patience to pay off, and there's a risk in spending recklessly in free agency out of the gate (as the Patriots themselves found out in 2021). But it's worth being skeptical that Belichick will take action before the team's best options get scooped up by their competitors.