Checkers and Chess. We all know the very overused cliche to describe how Bill Belichick does business on and off the field. Now to some, myself included, I usually just chuckle at the constant use of the phrase but it has never been more accurate than after this first week of the 2017 offseason.
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Bill Belichick truly plays a different game from everyone else. Let’s get this straight, he is not going all-in for some swan song final season as media folk such as Max Kellerman of ESPN suggests. Loaded with nearly $60 million in cap-space, they simply spent and they spent well.
Going into the offseason, the situation was pretty clear from the onset. Martellus Bennett ( GB 3 Yrs, $21 Million ) was likely gone. Logan Ryan was going to get a lucrative deal from another team ( TEN 3 Yr, $30 Million ), one that he deserved. Role players such as Chris Long were likely a one-and-done situation. What was left were the core players such Dont’a Hightower, Alan Branch and Duron Harmon. Bill Belichick needed to sign those players and add a couple more role players through free agency and the draft and you have a team returning that is ready to compete and defend a championship.
What does Bill Belichick do? He shocked everyone on day one by signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a lucrative 4 year deal. He then swung a deal for Dwayne Allen, a younger and cheaper version of Martellus Bennett who also can block and catch. Depth moves for Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy replaced older guys such as Chris Long and made the team younger. Then, to top it all off, he trades for budding superstar receiver in Brandin Cooks, who is younger than Malcolm Mitchell and gives Tom Brady his most talented deep-threat receiver since Randy Moss.
The sum of all these parts is a team younger and more talented than the one that just completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and has won two of the last three Super Bowls. The ceiling for this team is infinite. This offense can and should break some records. This defense, with or without Malcolm Butler will be just as strong if not stronger than last year’s defense. There was already a clear gap in the AFC between the Patriots and everyone else and it just got wider.
With the Malcolm Butler situation still hanging in the air, and Jimmy Garoppolo still not knowing whether he is staying or going, there is still work to be done. Despite adding a running back in Rex Burkhead, LeGarrette Blount should be re-signed and then of course you have the draft. But as of right now, over the course of the last eight months, Belichick’s Patriots have won the regular season, they won the postseason and now they have won the offseason, just two weeks in.
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