The Patriot Way?

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The Patriot Way?

Fans and media alike are not happy with the New England Patriots offseason.  It feels like people all over New England are getting antsy and quite possibly down right angry with the lack of action by the team.  The team has signed players.  The players the Patriots have signed are special teamers, back ups and role players.  In New England, we call that value.


Photo courtesy of usatoday.com

So Patriots Nation, is it, in Bill We Trust?


On the eve of NFL Free Agency, Bill Belichick and his girlfriend were photographed vacationing in Barbados.  While Bill was on the beach, Trey Flowers went to Detroit and Trent Brown became the highest paid offensive lineman and went to Oakland.  In addition to losing Flowers and Brown, the Patriots lost wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson to the Chicago Bears (2 years - $10M), Eric Rowe to the Miami Dolphins (1 year - #3.5M) and defensive tackle Malcom Brown signed with the New Orleans Saints (3 years - $15M).

The biggest losses of that group are Flowers and Brown, respectively.  The Patriots will acquire two third-round compensatory draft picks as compensation for the players.  The loss of Brown can be absorbed because the Patriots will be getting last year's first round pick in left tackle Isaiah Wynn back from injury.  Initially after drafting Wynn out of Georgia in the first round last year, we weren't sure how much Brown was going to impact the line.  He ended up becoming the starter after Wynn's injury and stabilized the offensive line and protected Tom Brady's left side.
 
Trey Flowers feels different though, and fans are voicing displeasure.  The Patriots will fill the void on the defensive line with newly acquired Michael Bennett.  The Patriots acquired Bennett from the Eagles prior to the legal free agent tampering period.  Bennett doesn't come to New England without his own baggage and background issues.  But again, in Bill We Trust?

Why would the Patriots let presumably the perfect Patriot go?  From a contractual perspective, Flowers leaving isn't a surprise.  Flowers was a player who did everything right, he did it the Patriot Way.  Flowers played well in each of the Super Bowls for the Patriots.  In nine playoff games with the Patriots, Flowers has 39 tackles and 5.5 sacks.  Flowers is a better player than Bennett, he knows the system, and he's been with the team for four years.  He is the definition of the Patriot Way.  In New England everyone has a price, or a value, and the Patriots see value in Bennett.  He has two-years left on his contract versus the $90M that the Lions will pay Flowers.

The Patriots may have a younger replacement for Flowers on the roster in defensive end Deatrich Wise.  Similar to Flowers, Wise is a former fourth round draft pick of the Patriots back in the 2017 NFL Draft.  He is 6-foot-5, has shown flashes of being an explosive edge rusher, but has struggled against the run.  The team also has Derek Rivers, who is explosive as well.  He has speed and will blow past a lineman versus knocking one on the ground.  The question will be health, as Rivers lost his 2017 campaign with an ACL injury.

While fans get upset with free agency, and the Patriots current additions and notable subtractions, Belichick and his front office prepare for this each year.  Wise and Rivers are examples of that, these are two players who have been in the system and now have an opportunity to be the next Trey Flowers.  Belichick also believes in his roster, Belichick went on to say about Rivers, "I like Derek.  I think he's got a good future."  The man of few words with some praise for his young edge rusher.

The NFL has thrown some cash out there to the defensive pass-rushing market.  The Green Bay Packers signed Za'Darius Smith to a 4-year $66M dollar deal that'll pay him $16.5M dollars annually.  The Packers also signed Preston Smith to a four-year $52M deal that will pay him $13M dollars annually.  There is no chance that the Patriots will tie that kind of capital up with two players playing the same position.

The Patriots have added free agents to the roster.  The names aren't going to make the casual fan excited but they are value.  The Patriots have signed wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris, defensive tackle Mike Pennel, free safety Terrence Brooks and tight end Matt LaCosse.  They also brought back running back Brandon Bolden, who was with Miami last season.  One thing should be noted on the free agent contracts by the team this offseason, with exception of Ellington, every player is signed to a two-year deal.

The Patriots have also re-signed wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, cornerback Jason McCourty and defensive end John Simon.  Interesting to note, with the exception of Dorsett, these contracts are also two-year deals.

The Patriots have committed themselves to wide receiver Josh Gordon by tendering $2.025M offer while he rehabs and makes yet another comeback to the NFL.  Other teams will have an opportunity to sign the tender the Patriots have placed on Gordon.  They will have until April 19th to do so.  If a team was to sign the tender sheet they would be required to give the Patriots a second-round pick in the 2019 draft.

The Patriots were active in trying to sign key free agents.  The Patriots were close to signing wide receiver Adam Humphries, who opted to take less money and go to Tennessee.  The slot receiver signed a 4-year $36M dollar deal with the Titans.  Reportedly the team offered $10M annually to Humphries, but he kept his word and is on to Nashville.

I guess after six Super Bowl Championships and almost two decades of winning no one should challenge the Patriot Way.  Former running back Kevin Faulk had this to say about the Patriot Way to The Players Tribune last year: "Some people say it's the way Coach Belichick runs the team, preaching accountability and placing a strong emphasis on doing your job.  Some say it's our style of play, with Tom Brady as our quarterback.  But truthfully, it's neither."  He went on to add "The Patriot Way ain't about nothing but winning, man.  That's it."

The Patriots have players on the roster who will "do their job" or even take "no days off".  The Patriot Way has been the model of success for Belichick and the Patriots and all Patriots fans should temper their frustrations and let the offseason unfold.  The NFL Draft is around the corner and the Patriots have 12 picks.  It remains to be seen if they'll use all 12, but based off past history they probably won't. 

Believe in the Patriot Way, it's why you're reading this article.  It doesn't feel like Belichick is invested in free agency, Patriots fans - I will throw the red challenge flag on that take.  The only thing the Patriots care about is winning, they've done a lot of that. 

That is why we say... in Bill we Trust.



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