Coming off a 4-13 season, the New England Patriots mutually parted ways with long-time head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick. The split resulted in sweeping changes being made both on the coaching staff and in the personnel department.
How those moves will position the Patriots for the future remains to be seen, but team owner Robert Kraft is optimistic. Briefly speaking to reporters at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas on Thursday, he expressed his excitement for what lies ahead for his organization even with future Hall of Famer Bill Belichick no longer part of the operation.
“I feel a sense of excitement and great opportunity to hopefully position the team to be special,” Kraft said, via Chad Graff of The Athletic.
“This is the first time in 31 years of ownership that we’re drafting at the position that we are, and have a chance to get some great players, and also have the cap room that we’ve carried over. So, I hope it positions us for the next few years beautifully. I’ve said that to the team. It’s pretty exciting.”
The Patriots’ disappointing 2023 season resulted in the Patriots holding the third overall selection in this year’s draft. While the belief is that the club will target a quarterback to replace the struggling Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe — both started games for New England last year — every option appears to be on the table.
The same is true for free agency, where New England is expected to have upwards of $70 million available. The new-look front office, led by director of scouting Eliot Wolf as quasi-GM, will have plenty of resources to reshape the team.
The Patriots themselves know the situation they find themselves in, and per new head coach Jerod Mayo are “ready to burn some cash” once the market opens in mid-March.
New England has not done that aggressively in the past, creating the notion that the team would try to save money or was unwilling to make proper investments. However, Kraft pushed back against those accusations on Thursday.
“I know there’s a perception that we have held back on spending. Let me just say to our fans — that’s just not true,” he said. “We were blessed to have a coach in our system who was a great coach and also understood value. He ran a tight ship. They say we’ve been low spenders in the last 10 years, and that might be true, but we had a pretty good record. We won three Super Bowls.
“But we never held back with any of the coaches we’ve had over the last 30 years. They’ve been able to get whatever they want. If cash spending became an issue for our family, and we couldn’t do it, then I would sell the team. … I can assure our fans that spending will never be held back or the reason that we don’t sign players.”