Patriots Asking Fans For Patience With Eliot Wolf's Latest Comments

Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the
Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf during the / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Eliot Wolf never said it explicitly, but but his pre-draft press conference held Thursday morning could essentially be summed up in five words: "trust us, and be patient".

Coming off of a 4-13 season in which they missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons (after making the playoffs 16 times in the previous 17 seasons), Patriots fans may not be feeling an abundance of patience at the moment. But, they might need to find some soon based on Wolf's comments. No specific quote more encapsulated that request for patience than "We're a draft and develop team."

The "draft and develop" line is also alarmingly Red Sox-esque. Good teams should be able to simultaneously develop talent while balancing it with NFL-ready contributors.

The Patriots had this opportunity right in front of them. Even Jerod Mayo acknowledged it when he vowed to "burn some cash" early in the offseason. New England entered free agency with the most cap space in the NFL, with over $100 million to work with. Their big acquisitions? Jaylinn Hawkins, K.J. Osborn, Austin Hooper, Antonio Gibson, Chukwuma Okorafor, Jacoby Brissett, Sione Takitaki, Armon Watts, and Nick Leverett. Some solid NFL role-players? Yes. Bringing in premier talent for a fanbase starving to return to championship levels? Absolutely not.

New England did make some moves during free agency, but those moves were mostly made around the margins. To their credit, the new braintrust did bat nearly 1.000 on retaining their homegrown talent and key pieces. Most of their re-signings were standouts on the 2023 Patriots, but it would also feel a lot easier to get excited about "running it back" if the team didn't go 4-13 last season.

And we keep hearing about the "Packer Way" that Wolf is seeking to implement in Foxborough, an approach cented around draft and develop. Yes, Green Bay has largely epitomized the concept of year-in and year-out consistency in the NFL, but this is also a franchise that has won two Super Bowls and three conference championships in the last 56 years. The Chiefs just did that in the last four years. Championships are always be the ultimate goal, so why are we acting like Green Bay has been an absolute banner-raising juggernaut and that their player personnel philosophy is the guiding light for success in the league? 14 teams have as many or more Super Bowls as the Packers during that span.

Wolf spent 14 years with Green Bay, and his father, Ron, was the Packers' general manager for 10 seasons and is enshrined in Canton as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Interestingly, there is no concrete guarantee that Wolf will be the head man following the draft. He is currently functioning as the de facto GM despite retaining his director of scouting title. Wolf spoke at the combine, he's confirmed that he will be the ultimate decision maker at the draft, and he spoke once again today as a man in charge. Speaking about the team's future identity with such conviction suggests that Wolf expects to be in charge of the New England's player personnel department for the foreseeable future.

Add in that the Patriots currently have the second-hardest strength of schedule heading into 2024, things could get worse, or at the very least flatline, before they get better.

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