With free agency set to begin later this month, the NFL Players Association released its first ever Team Report Cards. The union polled around 1,300 of its members anonymously in 2022, asking them to rate teams on a 1-to-5 scale based on several categories that might be relevant for their peers.
The New England Patriots did not receive particularly good grades. Ranking 24th in the league with an overall score of D+, their facilities in particular were criticized by players.
The Patriots’ report card looks like this, with the respective league-wide ranking in parentheses:
- Treatment of Families: C- (t-22nd)
- Food Service/Nutrition: B (12th)
- Weight Room: D (31st)
- Strength Coaches: B+ (t-28th)
- Training Room: C- (t-22nd)
- Training Staff: A (t-9th)
- Locker Room: C+ (t-18th)
- Team Travel: D+ (t-25th)
Let’s break the categories down a bit further to get a clearer picture what is meant, and where the Patriots might see some room for improvement:
Treatment of Families (C-): New England was ranked 21st in the “Support of Players’ Families” category, with the lack of day care and a family room at Gillette Stadium the main points of criticism.
Food Service/Nutrition (B): The quality of food was ranked 13th, while 68 percent of players claimed there would be enough room in the team cafeteria.
Weight Room (D): “The players feel that the facilities and equipment have been the same for a very long time, and they feel like it is understaffed,” the NFLPA states in its summary of the situation. In addition, 85 percent of polled players expressed an opinion that the team was understaffed in the strength department — one currently being run by Moses Cabrera and Deron Mayo.
Strength Coaches (B+): While only tied for 28th in a league-wide comparison, the polled players gave their strength coaches a solid B+ grade. The belief is that strength coaches Cabrera and Mayo “moderately” add to their success on the field.
Training Room (C-): There is an apparent belief that the Patriots’ training room lacks equipment, and — similar to the weight room — is therefore not up to a certain standard.
Training Staff (A): The training staff led by head athletic trainer Jim Whalen was particularly praised by players. “The players feel that their trainers significantly add to their individual success,” the consensus reads.
Locker Room (C+): The Patriots invested in a locker room renovation in 2018, but it seems that players are still not entirely happy with it. A lack of space is the main problem from their perspective, with only 85 percent claiming they would have enough space — a number that ranks 19th in the league.
Team Travel (D+): Arguably the most surprising grade given that the Patriots have their own team plane, a modified Boeing 767. Nonetheless, only 54 percent of players said that they “have enough room to spread out” while traveling with the team.
Given those grades it is unsurprising that the NFLPA summary of the Patriots is not a flattering one, especially in regards to ownership:
The New England Patriots ranked 24th in our team guide. The player respondents’ feedback from our survey described the club’s facility as old, dated and in need of renovation. The staffing of the current facilities was also flagged as an issue in need of improvement, specifically in the weight room and training room. The player respondents’ indicated that facilities and operations at the Patriots can use a refresh.
Given the results, it is understandable that only 64% of players believe club owner Robert Kraft is willing to spend the money necessary for upgrades, ranking him 26th in this category.
In fairness to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, he is making an investment into the team right now. While most of the $225 million construction currently underway at Gillette Stadium is not aimed directly at improving the players’ situation, the team is in fact getting a new weight room as part of the renovation process.
Will that positively impact the team’s ranking next year? The NFLPA is planning to do these report cards annually moving forward, so we will find out in 2024.