By: Joe Spinosa
Right now I am thinking to myself, “who are you, and what have you done to the cynical Spin who is never satisfied with anything?” For years, I have done the thing that few in the New England area have been willing to do, question the roster-building acumen of Bill Belichick. I have said for years, that I am part of the “Suffering Patriots Fan Generation,” and by that I don’t mean the putrid 70s about which my grandfather complains; I am talking about the ten year period in which the New England Patriots were vying for the Lombardi Trophy, but had it slip away at the very end. Over that period of time I saw stars like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour, and many others come and go, which infuriated me. There were many a draft night in which I screamed at the TV because Belichick would turn in his first round pick for a third rounder, and two fourth rounders, but after witnessing the Patriots win two Super Bowls in three years, I am officially putting all my blind trust into Bill Belichick, which I should have done years ago. The reason why this took me so long was because A. The Patriots hadn’t won a Super Bowl in 10 years, and B. The only time the team did win was when it reached into its pockets to sign Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. However, the 2016 season completely swayed me to trust whatever Bill has in mind, because if you told me last year that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl without Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, and Rob Gronkowski, I would have laughed in your face, but they somehow pulled it off.
So now I am looking at the expansive list of impending free agents the Patriots have which includes Dont’a Hightower, Logan Ryan, Alan Branch, Jabaal Sheard, Duron Harmon, Martellus Bennett, and Chris Long to name a few. Last year I was lamenting that the Patriots last great chance to win a Super Bowl was this season because its defensive core would be decimated, but now I have faith the Patriots can still be favorites to win it all. Heading into the 2017 offseason, the marquee names who Patriots fans are clamoring to retain are Dont’a Hightower and Martellus Bennett. Honestly, I always viewed Bennett as one-year guy. He strikes me as someone who is not completely devoted to football and wants to earn a big payday, of which I don’t begrudge him. Personally, the only tough call for me is Dont’a Hightower who has been a pivotal piece in the Patriots recent championships. While retaining Hightower seems like a must-do to many, Patriots fans must remember fan-favorite Jerod Mayo who had first-round pedigree like Hightower who suffered multiple injuries during his second contract. Belichick will be leery to give another large contract to a player with Hightower’s injury history considering how the end of Mayo’s tenure turned out.
Finally, the last reason why I believe the Patriots can still thrive without overpaying for its free agents is Jimmy Garoppolo. I firmly believe that the Patriots can get a first round pick as well as a third rounder for its backup quarterback. If Bill Belichick were to get the 12th overall pick and some other picks from Cleveland, he could parlay that into two seconds, two thirds, and two fourths. Bill Belichick is known for finding value in the middle of the draft, so the Patriots could conceivably fill four to five holes in the starting defense. To sum everything up, after years of questioning Bill Belichick, I am finally hopping on the “In Bill We Trust” bandwagon.