MMQB's Peter King wrote an interesting article questioning the circumstances surrounding the Houston Texans signing free agent quarterback Brock Osweiler. It's not that there were any league violations; the peculiar part of the deal was that the Texans followed all of the rules.
Currently, free agency is a complete mess with its "legal tampering periods" and inability for coaches to contact players over the offseason. The Texans gave Osweiler a mega-million contract and the coaching staff wasn't able to speak with their anointed franchise quarterback.
That sounds wrong, right?
In a contact period where agents and teams are able to spitball numbers but not come to "terms" until the official league year begins, franchises are forced to present monster contracts to players that might not even fit with the team.
And this is why Bill Belichick and the Patriots generally sit on their hands during free agency, and instead opt to provide the big contracts to players from within the system.
The Patriots have a history paying top dollar to those that have played within the system. Whether it's safety Lawyer Milloy, quarterback Tom Brady, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, offensive guard Logan Mankins, tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Jerod Mayo, or safety Devin McCourty, Belichick feels comfortable setting records when he knows how a player will function within the roster.
There have been a few times where Belichick ventured outside of the team for top contracts: linebackers Rosevelt Colvin and Adalius Thomas, and cornerback Darrelle Revis. The first two didn't pan out as expected, but Belichick was familiar enough with Revis to ensure that the cornerback was able to thrive in his season with the Patriots.
Teams like the Texans take major risks that could set back the franchise for multiple seasons if the signings don't pan out. The Patriots reduce their risks by signing inhouse prospects (take note, Miami).
King suggests an amendment to the current free agency process, by allowing teams a certain number of pre-free agency visits, in a system similar to how teams are allotted 30 pre-draft visits with college prospects. These meetings would allow coaches and front office persons to really understand if the player on the market is the right fit.
Until that rule changes, we'll continue to see teams shell out major deals for players that won't be in the best position to succeed, and we'll also see the front office persons and coaches responsible for those deals lose their jobs.
And Bill Belichick will continue to invest in his homegrown talent.