Patriots

This graphic helps shows why Patriots' free-agency approach is smart

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USA TODAY Sports

This graphic helps shows why Patriots' free-agency approach is smart

Spending big in NFL free agency rarely translates to Super Bowl success, and the New England Patriots are well aware of that.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots rarely make a huge splash when the free-agent market officially opens, and we've seen that again this year. Instead of breaking the bank and handing out massive amounts of guaranteed money  to keep defensive end Trey Flowers, left tackle Trent Brown and others, the Pats decided to let them walk in free agency and look for cheaper replacements.

The Patriots aren't the only team shying away from guaranteed money in free agency. In fact, several of the league's best teams are taking a similar approach. The graphic in the tweet below shows the teams that have guaranteed the most money in contracts during free agency. The New York Jets lead the way.

The Patriots check in with the fourth-lowest amount of money guaranteed in free agency. New England has made a bunch of smallers moves to this date, and that strategy certainly worked out last year.

The seven teams with the most guaranteed money spent in free agency all missed the playoffs in 2018. The Green Bay Packers might be the only team in that group with a strong chance to make the playoffs in 2019.

So, while teams like the Jets and Lions are grabbing all the headlines in March, the likelihood of these signings being a springboard to the playoffs is not great. The draft remains the best way to build a perennial winner, and that's one area where the Jets and many other teams have enjoyed little success over the last decade or so.

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Report: Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola to re-sign with Lions

Report: Ex-Patriots WR Danny Amendola to re-sign with Lions

Scratch that Danny Amendola-Patriots reunion.

Peter Schrager of the NFL Network reports the free-agent wide receiver is re-signing with the Detroit Lions, where he spent last season and had 62 catches for 678 yards. Former Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will enter his third season as Lions coach in 2020. 

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The 34-year-old left the Patriots after five seasons to sign with the Miami Dolphins in 2018 and may have burned a bridge or two with Bill Belichick. 

It had been speculated that perhaps bringing in a former reliable Tom Brady receiver might be part of a plan to lure Brady back to New England, with a report in late January that Amendola could come along to wherever Brady lands in free agency, but a Brady-Amendola reunion in Detroit isn't happening, either. 

Next Pats Podcast: Will Patriots go mobile at QB if Tom Brady leaves?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Next Pats Podcast: Will Patriots go mobile at QB if Tom Brady leaves?

There's one big question that New England Patriots are facing this offseason. Who is going to be their starting quarterback in 2020?

For the past 20 seasons, the team hasn't really had questions at the position. It has always been Tom Brady's job. But with the 42-year-old set to hit free agency, the Patriots can't necessarily count on him returning unless they want to pay him what he's worth.

So, now the question for the Patriots becomes, what will life look like if Brady departs?

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On the latest episode of The Next Pats Podcast, which returns for its first episode of the 2020 offseason, Phil Perry is here to explore that question. And really what it all boils down to is what the Patriots are looking for in a potential successor.

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As Perry notes, it's likely to be one of two types of quarterback: The traditional pocket passer or a more mobile athlete in the mold of some of the recent success stories at the position.

Do the Patriots look for the next Brady? Uber-accurate, somebody who's going to sit in the pocket and absolutely dissect every little aspect of the defense that he is looking at. Or, do they go a different route? Do they go with an athlete? Do they get more mobile? Because talking to people this offseason, I'm getting a whiff -- I'm getting a scent that people believe the pocket passer might be dead.

Perry is joined by guests including Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo, Greg Cosell of ESPN and NFL Films, and NFL Network's Kurt Warner to answer questions about Brady's future and what his game has looked like in recent seasons.

For more thoughts about the Patriots offseason, check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast, available as part of the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.