The New England Patriots are coming off their worst season in years, but Bill Belichick still reigns supreme as the best general manager in football — at least according to a new ranking by NBC Sports’ Patrick Daugherty. Belichick has also held the top spot in the previous editions of the ranking.
This one’s is still different, though, given that the Patriots are coming off a rather disappointing 7-9 campaign in their first year without Tom Brady. So, why is Belichick still named the league’s best GM? Daugherty explains it as follows:
1. Bill Belichick, Patriots
You’re permitted one bad year, right? Yes and no. It’s no ordinary bad year when the franchise icon quarterback you let walk in free agency immediately wins another Super Bowl elsewhere. What figured to be an intricate debate — Belichick or Brady? — didn’t seem so complicated in 2020. It is, of course, but it wasn’t so much letting Brady go as the underlying factors that drove him away. A shoulder-debilitated Cam Newton throwing up prayers to Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers last season laid bare just how talent-bereft Brady’s final few offenses really were. There is no band-aid fix to a situation like that, but Bill Belichick tried in free agency, going on an uncharacteristic spending spree as he added Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and Kendrick Bourne, amongst others. It was an admission of fault from the Patriots’ long-time czar, but those are not as rare as you might think. Quickly admitting missteps has always been one of Belichick’s super powers. Despite his foibles as team builder — hello Patriots receiver picks — no general manager has done a better job of giving the coach the right players than Belichick. He will eventually stack together enough little fixes to correct the past half decade’s big mistakes. You could argue I’m blinded by the rings. There is still no one I would rather build a front office around.
After seemingly using the 2020 season as a transition year between the Brady era and the future, the Patriots entered the offseason among the league leaders in salary cap space. They subsequently went on a massive spending spree to upgrade their offensive skill position talent and bolster their defensive front seven. They furthermore were able to draft quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th selection in the draft.
Belichick’s skills as a team builder are well known despite some notable misses over his two decades in New England. Still, the 2021 offseason and how he approaches a post-Brady setting will be crucial for the future of the franchise — and for his spot atop the general manager list come 2022.