Patriots' Rebuilding Plan Made Clear by Cautious Offseason Approach

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

Entering this offseason, the New England Patriots were presented with the opportunity to engage in an accelerated rebuild. The Patriots could take advantage of their cap space of over $100 million, the highest mark in the league, and aggressively rebuild by acquiring proven NFL talent.

Yet, New England has shown zero interest in that path.

The 2023 Houston Texans would have been the ideal blueprint for an aggressive rebuild. The Texans were coming off of a 3-13-1 season, they hired DeMeco Ryans (a first-time, defensive-minded head coach, just like Jerod Mayo), and drafted a rookie quarterback with the second overall pick. There are some incredible parallels between the two situations.

With a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, former Patriots executive Nick Caserio helped engineer a remarkable turnaround as Houston posted a 10-7 record, captured a division title, and won their opening playoff game.

The New England Patriots had the opportunity in front of them to follow suit, but have apparently feel content with exercising patience.

New England ranks rank 15th in total offseason spending despite being flush with space space. The Patriots have not brought in a single outside free agent that ranks among Pro Football Focus' top-100 available.

Their top free agent signings are: TE Austin Hooper (120), QB Jacoby Brissett (128), OT Chukwuma Okorafor (164), LB Sione Takitaki (179), and RB Antonio Gibson (201). They have failed to acquire a single premier player during this offseason, either through free agency or trade.

To their credit, Eliot Wolf's and co. have retained nearly all of their top in-house talent in the form of Kyle Dugger, Mike Onwenu, Hunter Henry, Josh Uche, and Kendrick Bourne.

The phrase "the Packers Way" has been muttered often in New England since Wolf was revealed as the chief player personnel decision maker. This philosophy prioritizes scouting, building sustainable rosters through the draft, and retaining high-performing players.

Why else might New England be interested in younger players? Well, Jerod Mayo has an answer for that: "You want to play younger players because, first of all, they're cheaper." That is not exactly a reassuring rationalization for the fanbase.

When the Patriots reunited with quarterback Jacoby Brissett on a one-year deal, it was an undeniable indication that the organization would prefer to sit their rookie signal caller for a year, just as Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love sat in Green Bay. The signing of Brissett was yet another hint of the "Packer Way" infiltrating Foxborough, and it also served as a hint of a longer-term approach.

Most notably, New England missed on wide receiver Calvin Ridley this offseason. Ridley was one of the highest-rated receivers available, and the Patriots reportedly had the "means to match" Calvin Ridley's 4-year, $92 million deal with the Titans.

The price tag for Ridley was admittedly steep and many evaluators don't regard him as a No. 1 wideout, but receiver has been a dire position of need and the Patriots have the cap space to overpay. Instead, their plan to "weaponize the offense" appears to be to assemble the most No. 3 and No. 4 options in the league.

On Friday, the Tennessee Titans acquired cornerback L'Jarius Sneed from the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2025 third-round draft pick and a swap of seventh-round picks.

Pairing Sneed and 21-year-old Christian Gonzalez would have given the Patriots one of the best cornerback tandems in the league, and a third-rounder (in next year's draft) is quite the reasonable ask from Kansas City. Notably, whichever team landed Sneed would have to arrive at a contract extension agreement with the corner, but New England obviously has the space to do so.

The Patriots have shown zero urgency to put a winning product on the field in 2024. If New England is to return to double-digit wins and playoff appearances, Patriots fans better be ready to be patient.

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