There's no debating Bill Belichick's status as one of the greatest head coaches -- if not the greatest -- in NFL history. The same can't be said about Bill Belichick the general manager.
Some less-than-stellar drafts over the years have called Belichick's GM talents into question. That's despite the New England Patriots winning six Super Bowls in 20 years to become one of the greatest dynasties in the history of American sports.
Is the criticism of Belichick the GM warranted? Brad Spielberger, Pro Football Focus' salary cap analyst, joined Phil Perry on a new episode of the Next Pats Podcast to share his thoughts.
"I genuinely still believe he is the greatest general manager and head coach in NFL history," Spielberger said. "I stand by that. The draft stretch recently has not been solid, there's no denying that. They of course kept losing first-round picks for various situations and stuff like that, and it has been proven time and time again that it is impossible to sustain better drafting than other teams over an extended period of time. But what they can control is the compensatory picks, trading guys away to get more picks, trading back a ton in the draft to stockpile picks. The things they can control, they are the best at doing.
"I would say also, they haven't spent like crazy in free agency before this last offseason but they are just patient. And the reason they sustained a dynasty is because they let guys like Chandler Jones leave. I know that sounds crazy, but those types of moves were able to sustain this run by continuing to add surplus value of rookie deals and bringing guys in. They effectively invented this mid-tier market where you sign 20 guys to $1 to 3 million deals and stuff like that. They are exploring edges and finding different ways to roster construct at all times, and I get there's been some struggles in drafting, I still think he's the greatest general manager of all time."
Perry agrees that Belichick deserves credit for his efforts as Patriots GM and adds that draft results aren't the best way to judge him.
"So much luck is involved," Perry said. "If you can draft with a volume-based approach, that's typically what the smart thing is to do. And so, I think the Patriots have tried to be smart about it. I think they were kind of pressed into a corner in some ways. I think they wanted to try to max out and squeeze as much juice as they could out of the Tom Brady era, and so they did some things that they don't normally do. ...
"I think the GM reputation is starting to slowly be rebuilt here locally, because that's sort of a narrative that's surrounded him for a few years."
Also discussed on the new episode: Bill Belichick on what has led to J.C. Jackson’s impressive season so far. Brad Spielberger on what the market will be for Jackson. Will the Patriots be in a position to give Jackson the franchise tag? And do the numbers prove that Jackson can be a No. 1 corner?