Bill Belichick likes to think ahead. The 5 people who follow my articles may sense that I prefer to do the same. There is plenty material out there about the Patriots awesome win yesterday, so instead of my take on the game, I prefer to try and crack the brilliant mind of the greatest coach of all time.
When it comes time to decide on whether to move on, or pay up for a current player, most of Bill Belichick’s personnel decision are as sharp as a Dion Lewis cut.
As of now, Belichick looks like a genius for letting Darrelle Revis walk (which made me want to repeatedly punch my own stupid face for about 6 months) and he’s been notoriously good at letting older players go a year early before their steep decline.
However, I have three specific players that I fear Belichick may be getting T-Rex arms for when it comes time to reach for his payroll wallet.
Don’t get me wrong, when you’re talking wheeling and dealing, the man can still slice like a ninja, cut like a razorblade. Any of my V.I. peeps out there? But make no mistake about it; the man isn’t perfect. Not even close.
Many of Belichick’s past drafts picks were like a locker room wet-vac: smelly, sucky, make you cringe when you need to use them. The list of free agent disasters is quite long, and many of the trades he has made when giving up middle to low draft picks for veteran players have been as accurate as the Wells report. For every 6th round pick named Tom Brady, there was a 2nd round pick named Chad Jackson. For every Randy Moss trade, there was an Albert Haynesworth trade. For every Rodney Harrison free agent signing, there was an Adalius Thomas signing.
Part of Belichick’s lengthy list of roster blunders are from simply deciding player personnel moves for so long. (17 years … that’s a lot of transactions!) Every move can’t be a Gronk spike. One of his problems though, is he’ll try to force every player on his roster to take less. Let’s face it, sometimes … he’s just cheap.
Does Kraft ever have a hand in this? No way. Belichick runs the roster 100%. If Bill wanted badly to throw a boat load of money at a player, and Kraft was against it, you think Kraft would have the footballs to tell Bill, “No!” ? I doubt it, and so should you.
Player #1. With Jamie Collins on the cusp of cashing in more than any other Patriot next year, did anyone find it peculiar that Barkevious Mingo not only seemed to play the role of Collins in the last preseason game against the Giants, but he even looked like Collins?
Was it against scrubs? Absolutely. Nevertheless, could Mingo possible be a disruptive force once he’s been in the Patriots defensive system for the rest of this season and an off season? Could he resemble Collins next year with a much cheaper price tag?
Maybe. But God do I hope Belichick isn’t thinking this way.
The only thing Collins lacks is consistency. He can at times disappear in games. This is likely from a lack of experience. Once he adds more of this precious attribute to his freakish physical tools, you’re looking at player with the potential to impact a game on par with the great Lawrence Taylor. You don’t let players approaching their prime like that leave. Ever. Even if there’s a fire! (Step Brothers reference … anyone?)
Player #2 Malcolm Butler is locked up for this year and next, so Belichick should worry about extending him next year. But was Cyrus Jones drafted to replace Mr. Butler in case the Super Bowl 49 hero starts demanding top 5 cornerback money? After all, Belichick used his very first pick in the 2016 drafts on Cyrus. After this year, if Butler looks as good as last year, or even better, show him the same love the Jets showed an aging Revis. Young, elite, left corners are harder to find than a Rex Ryan brain cell. Do not cheap out here, Bill.
Player #3 As far-fetched as this is, has Gronk given Belichick a hard time about tearing up his contract, which still has four years left? Is this, combined with Gronk’s “special” injury rules starting to wear on Belichick’s nerves? Did Belichick keep so many tight ends on the roster as perhaps a long-term replacement for the GOAT tight end? God I really hope not!
Is Belichick about to cheap out?
The Patriots have 65 million in cap space next year. Patriots fans will not want to hear one excuse for them not keeping Collins and Hightower. Hightower was dubbed captain this year, so I believe it’s a given that he will be extended. I’d like Jabaal Sheard locked up as well, but I could live with him departing if it means locking up both of their stud linebackers. Plus, Flowers looks like a possible replacement for Sheard.
When Belichick decided to cut bait with Asante Samuels, he used countless 2nd and 3rd round draft picks to try and replace him, while Samuel went on to have a few Pro-Bowl-type years with Philly. Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, and Ras-I Dowling were all drafted to replace Samuels. All were a monstrosity.
When Belichick cut bait with Deion Branch over a few bucks, lets face it, it cost us the 2006 Super Bowl. Did Branch go on to become the next Antonio Brown? Of course not. But sometimes, you just have to yank the wallet from your skin tight Bon Jovi jeans, blow the dust off, and pay a bit more than you’d like for certain players.
Don’t forget, when Edelman was an unrestricted free agent a few years ago, Belichick told him to test the market. This may look like a brilliant move, as Edelman ended up crawling back to the Patriots to sign an insanely cheap contract. But would if there was one competent GM out there that actually offered Edelman decent money? Do the Patriots win Superbowl 49 without Edelman? Talk about a close call!
As far as Gronk goes, the guy clearly loves to play football. Tell the big tight end, sorry, but when we signed you, it was the best contract a tight end had ever signed. If he holds out, he holds out. Let him play out the contract and leave in four years when he’s past his prime. As of now, you keep him. Period.
It’s time for Belichick to stop screwing around with certain players. The closer he allows, Hightower, Collins and Butler to get to free agency, the more these players’ agents will be in their ear whispering, “you might as well test the free agent market. See if someone breaks the bank for you.”
If Belichick doesn’t take care of these players soon, I have a feeling I’ll be back to punching myself in my stupid face with frustration for a looooong time.
Patriots nation, let’s continue to grow! Follow me @StevenViner1, and I will follow you back!