The New England Patriots fell short of the playoffs in 2022, ending the year with an 8-9 record and as the ninth-ranked team in the AFC. Now heading into the offseason, the goal is clear: rebuild the roster and coaching staff to compete for a spot in the tournament again.
Head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick said as much himself during his end-of-year press conference.
“Can’t do anything in the postseason until you get into the postseason,” he said one day after New England’s season-ending loss to the Buffalo Bills. “There were other opportunities along the way during the year, not just yesterday, but yesterday was really — that was our postseason. We weren’t able to advance. Until you get past that, there isn’t much to compete for.”
Advancing past that stage will be key for the Patriots, and something they are well-positioned to do despite several big question marks on and off the field. After all, New England is entering the offseason among the league leaders in available resources.
Pro Football Focus’ Arjun Menon analyzed each club heading into 2023, creating a composite score based around draft capital, projected salary cap space, and prorateable money (i.e. restructurable contracts). The result was a ranking No. 1 through 32 to find out which clubs are best and worst positioned.
The Patriots are among the first group, ranking fifth with a composite score of 87.1. Of the teams ahead of them, only one — the 9-8 Seattle Seahawks at No. 3 — was able to make the playoffs this year.
The following graphic visualizes this relation between team success and available resources:
Obviously, the goal is to make the most out of the resources in hand — you can have all the money or draft picks in the world, but if you don’t spend them wisely you will not build a winning team. That said, the Patriots are well-positioned to attack the offseason with a purpose both from a purely financial and a draft-pick perspective.
New England, after all, is currently projected by Miguel Benzan to be $35.7 million under the salary cap in 2023 — all while not having many marquee players among their 22 free agents to re-sign. Additionally, the team could have as many as 11 draft selections depending on how the compensatory picks process turns out.
At the end of the day, the Patriots are one of the few teams near the top of the league in both categories. All things considered, they are therefore not in a bad spot even after what was a disappointing season.