Crazy stat puts Patriots’ free agent spending spree in perspective
The New England Patriots came into the offseason with more salary cap space than almost every team in the NFL, and they have wasted no time using that to their advantage. Bill Belichick has already made several major splashes in free agency, which is something that has rarely happened in his two decades with the team.
The Patriots made four big signings at the start of what is known as the “legal tampering period” on Monday. They agreed to deals with pass-rusher Matt Judon (4 years, $56 million), tight end Jonnu Smith (4 years, $50 million), defensive back Jalen Mills (4 years, $24 million) and nose tackle Davon Godchaux (2 years, $16 million). As of Monday afternoon, New England had spent $146 million on free agent contracts this offseason.
While not all of that money is guaranteed, it is still remarkable when you compare it to the approach Belichick has taken over the last decade. The $146 million is nearly half of all the money the Patriots have spent on free agents combined in the past 10 years.
Bill Belichick spending in free agency:
prior 10 years total: $359,886,620
first 3 hours of 2021: $146,000,000
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 15, 2021
By the time the day ended, the Patriots did even more damage. They added receivers Nelson Agholor (2 years, $26 million) and Kendrick Bourne (3 years, $22.5 million) and defensive lineman Deatrich Wise (4 years, $30 million).
There are several reasons why the Patriots are spending more this offseason than usual. For starters, Tom Brady’s money is now off the books. While Brady consistently took less than market value, he still earned significantly more than what New England is paying Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham.
Of course, the Patriots also have more holes to fill than usual this offseason. It makes sense that Belichick is trying to use free agency to re-tool after a 7-9 season. In the past, his rosters have been so good that he could focus more on re-signing his own players than scouring free agency.
Time will tell if the aggressive and unfamiliar approach pays off. All we know is most Patriots fans are pleased with it, and the team even sent a hilarious tweet about the big splashes.