Robert Kraft


Robert Kraft

Getty Images

Robert Kraft

The New England Patriots offseason has been relatively subdued, considering most fans were anticipating a spending spree during free agency. Some NFL executives are unwilling to give team owner Robert Kraft a pass and blame him heavily.

The Patriots’ most significant setback was their failed pursuit of star wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who ultimately chose to sign with the Tennessee Titans. Kraft made it public that New England had extended Ridley a competitive offer. The Patriots owner somewhat deflected the idea that the Patriots didn’t do enough by stating that Ridley’s decision was influenced by his “girlfriend” wanting to stay in the South. But some NFL executives are not interested, according to The Athletic’s Sando.

“Kraft mentions the (state income) taxes, the quarterback, the player’s girlfriend and then he mentioned the money,” an exec said. “The reality is, if the dollar net taxes were higher in New England than in Tennessee, they would have gotten the player. It’s like Kraft can’t live in a world where he is looked at as the problem.”

Robert Kraft, the problem?

Patriots reporter @ChadGraff spoke to a league executive on what the Patriots free agency problem was:

“Kraft mentions the (state income) taxes, the quarterback, the player’s girlfriend and then he mentioned the money,” an exec said. “The reality is,…

Kraft also implied that the team’s inability to secure Calvin Ridley might have been influenced by its uncertain quarterback situation. But this statement doesn’t exactly add up, either. Ridley ultimately signed with a team that doesn’t have a rock-solid quarterback room. Sure, there is hope surrounding second-year QB Will Levis, but the jury is still out on him. The Titans currently have Levis, Mason Rudolph, and Malik Willis as their quarterback options.

An Offseason of Unfulfilled Promises

The offseason seemed like a much-needed fresh start after the Patriots parted ways with longtime head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots entered free agency as one of the teams in the NFL with the most cash to spend, and they were open about it. New head coach Jerod Mayo notoriously talked about how much money they had for free agency and guaranteed they would spend it. But the Patriots opted to walk those comments back, likely to curb expectations with good reason.

Jerod Mayo talked to @kguregian and walked back his quote about spending

“I kind of misspoke when I said ‘burn some cash’ but I was excited when you see those numbers. When you reflect on those numbers … you don’t have to spend all of it in one year.”

Shortly after that, the Patriot’s scouting director and acting GM, Eliot Wolf, was vocal about the Patriots’ emphasis on adding speed on offense, specifically at wide receiver. This suggested to many that the Patriots would be hyperfocused on adding speed to the WR room, most likely in the form of Ridley. But that didn’t happen.

And now that just about none of those promises or aspirations have come to fruition, NFL execs are vocal regarding the contradicting soundbites coming out of New England.

“The head coach came out early in the offseason and said, ‘We have a lot of money to spend, and we are going to spend it,’” another exec said. “Then he had to walk the comment back. Then they lose out on the receiver after their GM says they have no speed on offense. So you have the two highest appointed people in the organization saying they are going to spend and they are going to prioritize speed, and then they do neither. What the hell?”

No Blockbuster Deal, So Far

After missing out on a few top free agents, Patriots fans still hope the team can make a deal for an elite pass catcher. Tee Higgins and Brandon Aiyuk have been linked as possible trade targets. The Patriots have also been linked to a potential blockbuster deal with the Vikings that could include star WR Justin Jefferson.

If that happened, the Patriots first-round draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft would have to be included. With the lack of free agency excitement, a trade is the next best option for the Patriots to acquire a difference-making pass catcher.

If the Patriots fail to land a marquee pass catcher and don’t make a move via trade, that will put even more pressure on the upcoming NFL draft. The Patriots hold the No. 3 overall pick, and there has been a variety of speculation regarding what the Patriots could do with that pick.


Colin Lynch covers the NFL for, with a focus on the New England Patriots. His sports coverage has been featured on Finixio’s The Sports Daily and Basketball Insiders, as well as FanSided. He is also a former D1 baseball player drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2008. More about Colin Lynch


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