Bill Belichick is a generally tight-lipped man when it comes to media interviews, and especially so when it comes to either A) discussing the state of his roster with any depth or B) comparing one team to any version that came in years past. However, Belichick is also known for getting a little bit more chatty when his friends are the ones interviewing him.
Such was the circumstance today, when former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis interviewed Belichick on SiriusXM radio. When asked about the roster, Belichick gave a far more specific answer than one might expect, and the issues come down to one simple thing that is also rather complicated: depth and how it relates to the cap.
When the offseason began, the Patriots did not have much money to play with. They were left in limbo by Tom Brady, which handcuffed whatever early moves they wanted to make. Brady's eventual departure resulted in a huge dead cap penalty for New England. Because of all the contract maneuvering over the last three or so years, the Patriots were left with a $25 million dead cap bill to pay when Brady finally left. They couldn't even make the moves on the margins to fill out the roster, resorting to draft picks to do that. And that was all before they had eight players opt out of the season before it started.
This lack of depth can also be the result of Belichick the GM's poor drafting decisions. The Patriots picked only six starters in the last two drafts, and only Isaiah Wynn and Chase Winovich could be considered league-average out of those six. The NFL draft game can be a bit of a crapshoot, and Belichick has not found anywhere near the level of talent he did early in the decade in that department.
Now they're paying for it, especially at the skill positions. The Patriots will have only four active wide receivers this coming Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, led by a pair of former undrafted free agents in Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers. Former first-round pick Sony Michel is on the IR and former third-round pick Damien Harris has yet to do anything of note in Michel's absence. Even if Cam Newton can turn his game around and resemble the player we used to know, New England has nothing resembling a long-term plan at the position.
Brady managed to carry a similar team to relevancy last season, but even he would have trouble doing anything with this roster. It's one of those seasons so far for the Patriots where everything started bad and then got worse. There does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, either. This roster needs a series makeover, and Belichick appears to know it.