I don't really know how to format these posts all nice and don't care to put the effort in. So basically my effort is in research and trying to make the best list and piece of content you won't see elsewhere on Pulpit because this one at least is not positive in nature.
Just to get a few things out of the way: "Forcing Brady out" or making Tom Brady leave is not going to be an option on this list, too speculative and too many factors. This list as stated is from 2015-2022.
Malcolm Butler being benched (for "whatever reason") is a coaching decision not a GM's. And yes we did make it to 3 SBs in a row during this period but the groundwork for the roster was laid out, mostly, prior to 2015-2016 ish. Without further ado, here are the worst moves in recent Patriots history:
GM Bill's Worst 10:
- Attempting to Trade Rob Gronkowski to DET
It is confirmed, not speculation that GM Belichick had a deal in place for the alleged exchange of Gronk and our 2nd for Detroit's 1st and 2nd prior to the 2018 season. Without a doubt in my mind we would be talking about the 5 SB champion double dynasty Patriots instead of two handing SB rings if this trade went through.
The 2018 roster was extremely weak at receiving talent especially after Josh Gordon was suspended late into the season, a shocker, and a rival Patriots site and some fans made some takes that did not age so well - This one aged well - cough cough. Gronk was a crucial piece and we do not win our last SB without him.
Also 2018 fittingly was a cinderella esque SB win overcoming odds like 2001, full circle. Thank Brady/Gronk that this trade was not seen through.
- Signing Jonnu Smith in the 2021 Offseason
4 years/50 million with 31.25 million guaranteed. Tied for 6th most (TE) APY in the league with teammate Hunter Henry. 4th most guaranteed, 2nd most fully guaranteed only behind Kyle Pitts' top 5 pick rookie deal. Disaster.
This is a guy who's career high was 448 yards prior to this contract. He eclipsed 400 receiving yards only twice despite being in the league for 4 seasons. This signing was everything Bill Belichick wasn't. This goes against his very being, his M.O., his brilliance. This contract is currently crippling this team, holding it hostage, and will hurt us for year/s to come.
- Jordan Richards, 64th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft
This was a war crime of a pick. Absolute criminal activity. This was taking the 64th pick, blowing anthrax into it's face, and then dousing it with napalm.
Outside of the meme, the reason this is 3rd on the list is because Richards did contribute to a SB loss on the field and because this was such a clown car reach. He could have been had in the 5th easily, the 6th likely, and the 7th probably. Belichick is quite possibly the best GM ever, but you can't deny that this was an ego pick or just horrendous for the "logic" displayed.
- Not drafting/acquiring any TE post-Gronk into Asiasi/Keene 3rd round 2019 draft
This one is more meta and sort of a "cheat" because it's not a singular move, but the reason why it ranks so high and arguably should be third on this list is because...(spongebob inhale)
The 2019 season was not a throwaway. We were SB contenders, some people argue we weren't but I think we were. And if we had a functional, maybe C+ to B- level TE? We easily could have won the WC and had a pretty easy road to the AFCCG against a Chiefs team that kind of s--- the bed against Tennessee for large stretches.
Instead for some reason after Gronk retired and we started at a TE depth chart of Ryan Izzo...and literally no one else? We acquired Matt LaCosse (household name), and coaxed a 90 year old Ben Watson out of retirement and juiced him up. Why did we forego drafting anyone? Why did we deem that a 2nd or a 3rd or even a 4th and change was far too rich for our blood?
Well we lost a WC playoff game by effectively 1 point and Brady soon after said f--- it I'm gone. This was one of the biggest factors in Brady leaving, and it takes precedent above the run on WR and CB blunders that will shortly be listed.
- BB trades a 2nd round pick for Mohammed Sanu 2019 deadline
There's a lot of cope for this one, narratives like Brady wanted Sanu specifically and pushed Belichick to make this deal. Maybe some of it is true. But ultimately Bill is a military esque leader/dictator for this organization, he makes the decisions.
Regardless of Brady or Bill's share of the pie, this was a horrible move. Idk why people talking s--- in a comment section can realize it before it even manifested, but Sanu was and is a slot receiver. He needs a vast majority of snaps in the slot to succeed, and by succeed be decently good in his prime surrounded by literal all-time great WRs or HOFers.
Edelman was a pure slot by this point in 2019, Dorsett was a Z forced to play X, Harry needed slot snaps to do anything well, and Meyers had flashed but was riding pine. Sanu was redundant, superfluous, overrated, and old. A 2nd rounder at a deadline isn't chump change, that should net you a very good player. Instead, we paid a 2nd for a 1.5 year rental that turned into a couple of games rental and cut Sanu the next preseason. Great trade. (We did need WR help to be fair, obviously, but Sanders had to have been available for the right price or someone else)
Long blurb on Sanu, but fun fact section - The 2nd round pick was 55th overall and ATL packaged it with a 5th to trade for Hurst and a 4th. Baltimore used it on JK Dobbins.
- 45th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, JoeJuan Williams
Another entry in Belichick's cursed as f--- run on 2nd round CBs. This one was pretty egregious, just constantly slapping the fans in the face with ego picks against consensus it would seem. We sent the 56th + 101st picks to trade up for this molasses statue.
Spent the 45th pick on a CB who ran a 4.64 at the combine, we would say any another GM was feasting on crayons to make that pick. Yet Belichick made it, after Richards and immediately after Dawson (foreshadowing).
JJW has barely played actual defense/CB for this team in 3 years, has played STs and maybe has been okay? Currently just got placed on IR otherwise he likely was cut. Another disaster of a pick, and this was more than 45th overall worth of value so it's actually...very bad.
- 56th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Duke Dawson
Back to back baby. Insult to injury is that the Bucs acquired 63rd pick Carlton Davis (he's good) and 117th pick Jordan Whitehead (he's pretty good) for the 56th pick in the draft from us. Where we promptly drafted another CB car wreck in Duke Dawson.
The process wasn't horrendous, a minor reach maybe. He had a 3rd or 4th round grade by consensus or so, but some were high on him. He had some athleticism. But the real kicker is the fact he played zero regular snaps in 2018, and then was traded for a future 6th rounder to Denver the next offseason.
Drafted into an absolute demon depth chart of Gilmore, J-Mac, J.Jones, Rowe, and by chance emerging Jackson (and 7th round homer favorite Crossen), it adds to the "why" factor. To be fair, Dawson sucks and has barely played in the NFL since we cut bait. Has two 60 ish PFF grades but gives up a reception on virtually every target, on his 3rd team with Carolina now, but still, horrendous.
- 32nd overall pick of the 2019 Draft, N'Keal Harry
You know, it's tough to rank this one. This fanbase was so delusional and comically wrong about this player I'd rank it higher based on bias and emotion. But I think this is a good spot.
Harry was not a big reach. His a very minor reach if that, less than Dawson by a significant margin. He was a late 1st, early to mid 2nd grade prospect by consensus. The issue was, in real time quite a few top notch WRs fell down the board and were available at 32.
A.J. Brown made a lot of sense for this team and was there. DK Metcalf was assumed to go top 15 after a monster combine and fell super far. Deebo was still there and while he wasn't my cup of tea, he was a "Patriot" mold guy. But we decided to take the guy with separation issues in college, lack of elite athleticism, who played in the PAC-12. The rest is history.
This is another huge factor that likely made Brady leave a crap roster and "killed" the dynastic run. This pick really needed to hit and it just didn't. Unfortunate.
- Mismanagement of Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson as Assets
This one is sort of cheating with a combo, probably ranks higher but I'm scaling for the cheat. This was just so anti-Belichick as well. The guy who traded fan favorite, pro bowler, SB champion Lawyer Milloy like he was a scrubini. Who tried to trade Gronk, who let Brady walk and didn't bat an eye lash, who traded Chandler Jones, Jaime Collins, Randy Moss, and cut/traded many others.
Sell early. Don't pay for past performance. Anticipate future value. Tenants of Belichick as GM when he was deservedly the best to ever do it.
But this was part of the shift in recent years where he abandoned what made him great at the job. It was obvious Gilmore needed to be dealt, he was aging and holding out for more money two camps in a row. It was obvious to assess that the roster was not good enough to compete, especially with Cam Newton (lol) at QB and Brady having left for greener pastures in TB.
Yet, Gilmore was clung onto and netted nothing instead of at least netting a 2nd and change easily. And then this offseason the same thing happened with JC Jackson, a young and talented corner who may not be elite but was a man coverage goon and a top ~15 corner in the league easily. Just inexplicable here.
- 29th Pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Cole Strange
To be fair to the player, it's not his fault. It's not your fault. It's the GM's. There was a series of moves that added to this being listed that are intertwined (Mason traded for peanuts, Karras let go). But ultimately this is also just a very poor use of assets and terrible value.
It is a disservice to this franchise and fanbase to spend a 1st round pick on a guard when there is a severe lack of talent on the roster and specifically in very valuable areas like WR/CB, and OT for the future.
People sometimes can't grasp the hypothetical, the theoretical. Even if Cole Strange is a C+ to B- guard in the NFL, this is still a bad pick. Just like how Sony Michel, while complicated, was a bad pick.
- Antonio Brown, 1 year/15 million, 10.5 million guaranteed. Pretty risky and straight up negligent to give a guy who quit on a good franchise, then cryogenically froze his feet and called his GM and your friend a "cracker" this amount of guaranteed money.
Could have easily made the top 10, but we did need WR help and to be fair this was a Moss like dart. The difference again, Gordon/Moss darts were low cost, high reward. This was high risk/high reward. Very high risk. And we lost. Any other GM gets crucified over it, like Mayock, so it is what it is.
- Sony Michel, 31st overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Drafting a RB in the 1st round is akin to snorting glue and eating crayolas. The only justification is that we had a SB caliber roster, he was supposed to be an explosive playmaker/receiver, and that we ultimately did win a SB and Sony did contribute as a lead back.
The distinction, divide, divergence again is the ability to critically think. And RBs "don't matter" to a large degree, what Sony provided as a pure runner who wasn't explosive at all could have been achieved by many other backs. In a vacuum, it was a bad draft pick.
- Nelson Agholor 2 years/22 million, 16 million guaranteed. Not big enough to make the top 10, but the guarantees on this contract are just absurd. It's Nelson f------ Agholor we're talking here, not Brandin Cooks or DeAndre Hopkins.
There was just no justification for paying this guy an almost fully guaranteed contract at 11 mil APY. He currently has the 5th highest cap hit in 2022 among all WRs. Pumping a casual 300 yards last season, and drops balls like they are Chernobyl graphite in his hands.
- Justin Rohrwasser, 5th round kicker out of the 4th R-e-i-c-h. Yeah I had to space that last part out in case auto mod SBnation/Vox deleted this post and the million words I typed. But jesus man, in real time I pounded the table about this. Just another awful waste of a pick that fans will put the rose colored glasses on in real time, then "conveniently" forget about after they were blatantly proven wrong.
You don't spend a 5th on a kicker then cut him. You don't spend a 5th on a kicker that would have been there in the 7th or UDFA easily, above other kickers who are actually good aka the consensus ones like Bass/Blankenship or whoever it was. Can't make the list but needs to be mentioned. Horrible.
- Cyrus Jones, 60th overall pick, 2016 NFL Draft. He doesn't make the list. At least this was a consensus esque pick, not a reach really, just didn't pan out. But it was a big bust.
- Shaq Mason for dirt, Karras walks for pennies, Stefon Diggs available prior to 2019 for reasonable assets, arguably low return for Jimmy G/Chandler Jones but eh.