The New England Patriots personnel department has been taken to task in this space for incomprehensible and bizarre decisions. As the 2023 offseason unfolds, the facts have more than substantiated those suggestions.
The offseason is where championships are built, or not. For two decades the Patriots’ personnel operation, such as it was, had the luxury of having the greatest quarterback, or rather the most outstanding player in NFL history to bail them out from their inadequacies.
That era ended in 2019 when the team signed a contract with Tom Brady that allowed him to leave after that season. It’s been all downhill since.
Yet, hope springs eternal in Patriot Nation until it doesn’t. Recent developments add emphasis to the point that this team’s personnel operation is, well, basically ineffectual. Let’s explore this in more detail.
New England Patriots “due diligence”?
Recent revelations concerning the team’s offseason exploits are now coming into focus. and the lens is dirty and out of focus. First, the team allowed the solid but admittedly oft-injured running back Damian Harris to leave. He went to Buffalo.
They ostensibly sought to replace him with another running back with an injury history, James Robinson. While the financial exposure is limited, the positional impact is not. Robinson was waived before ever even having carried a ball in anger due supposedly to injury concerns.
That further weakens a running back room that, absent the superlative Rhamondre Stevenson (Disclosure: personnel favorite here from even before he was drafted) has lots of question marks. An injury to Stevenson leaves the team thin, very thin at running back.
Now, recent disclosures are indicating that one of the team’s top two offseason additions (applauded here, by the way), may still be injured. “Hello, anyone home?” That would be wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
NFL.com’s Mike Giardi reported that Smith-Schuster is still dealing with a knee injury. If that’s indeed the case, then the arguably best off-season signing by the Patriots is damaged goods.
If the team’s due diligence in the form of its medical staff didn’t fully examine every aspect of the player’s injury situation, especially of recent vintage before they signed him, then who the heck is minding the store? The ostensible answer is, no one.
Patriots need a total personnel overhaul
Adding to the New England Patriots problems of an underwhelming wide receiver room and running back room, exacerbated by recent disclosures, are two additional major factors that cannot be discounted.
First, as recounted here, the team neglected to do the right thing with the critical offensive tackle position. Even if Trent Brown plays and stays on the field, they are still woefully thin at the position.
Riley Reiff, the presumptive starter at right tackle is 34 years old. Neither is reliable to play a full season. And, adding to the future situational difficulties, both are out of contract after the season even if they do. The team drafted ZERO offensive tackles.
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Additionally, the two starting tight ends, Hunter Henry and nice free agent signing Mike Gesicki are also both out of contract after this season. The team drafted ZERO tight ends out of their 12 draft picks, as well.
All of this adds up to one clear conclusion, the New England Patriots personnel operation, whoever runs it, is well, to be frank, not all that astute.
We’ll see what eventuates from all this. The guess here is that it will be a last-place finish in the AFC East.
If am wrong, will eat crow accordingly. But this season, don’t think the meal will be that bad. Things are crumbling even before summer camp begins, and that ain’t a good optic.