The Patriots’ Big Spending Spree Is Paying Off

(Photo/ flickr)

(Photo/ flickr)

When Tom Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just a year and a half ago, the future looked grim for Patriots fans. After running a one-year experiment with Cam Newton, the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, ending the season with a 7-9 record. Meanwhile, Brady’s Buccaneers won their second championship in franchise history against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. In free agency, there was no desirable quarterback the Patriots could turn to, leaving a quarterback room that was looking quite lackluster leading up to the 2021 season. 

In hopes to stray from long-term mediocrity, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick made a big splash in the offseason, one of the biggest in the Patriots storied history.  On the first day of the 2021 NFL draft, the Patriots held the 15th overall pick and selected quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama. Jones was protected to be the third overall pick in the majority of mock drafts, but surprisingly fell down to the Patriots. 

Besides drafting Jones, the Patriots also spent $163 million in free agency, setting a record for the most money spent in the unrestricted free agency market. On the offensive side, the Patriots signed efficient tight ends Hunter Henry and Joanu Smith, along with wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. Because of these additions, Jones was given decent options to throw to, a step up from the receiver core of last year. On defense, the Patriots signed outside linebacker Matt Judon. Judon is making great strides with ten sacks so far this season, which ranks second among players league wide.  

With Belichick investing a massive amount of money in his team, the expectations from the fanbase were extremely lofty. After a preseason that had the Patriots left undefeated, the start of the season did not play out as Patriots fans had hoped. The Patriots cut quarterback Cam Newton, leaving no doubt that rookie Mac Jones would be the team’s quarterback, even if the team had to endure several growing pains throughout the season.  Those pains were evident early, as the team suffered losses to the 3-7 Miami Dolphins, the 5-4 New Orleans Saints, and the 6-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their first four games of the season.  The Patriots looked primed to miss the playoffs for the second straight year, but, after a comeback win versus the lowly Houston Texans, the Patriots have been able to rally and win five out of their last six games. 

Through the ninth week of the season, the Patriots currently stand with a 6-4 record, which is good enough for the sixth playoff spot AFC. They do not have an easy road ahead of them with the division-leading Buffalo Bills still ahead on the schedule for two pivotal matchups.  If the Patriots want any shot at a deep playoff run, they have to get more consistent quarterback play from Jones, as well as a more potent pass rush. The Patriots look to improve in those facets against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Thursday.