While the circumstances weren’t as stirring as the moment Adrian emerged from a coma and Rocky offered not to mess with Creed no more and Adrian said that she wants him to do one thing for her and the big lummox leaned in and she said, “Win” as the bells started clanging, the motivations for the Patriots when spending like drunken rebels last week were identical.
The best organization in football for the part 20 years stepped out of character and signed big checks because it wants to win.
And it did so because it could, and because the planets aligned for the Patriots, who by a mixture of happenstance and strategy found themselves in the position to have a huge amount of cap space — thanks in large part to the $25 million difference between where the cap would have been but for the pandemic, and where it is.
“It’s like investing in the stock market,” owner Robert Kraft told Peter King for his latest Football Morning in America column. “You take advantage of corrections and inefficiencies in the market when you can, and that’s what we did here. We’ll see. Nothing is guaranteed, and I’m very cognizant of that. But we’re not in the business to be in business. We’re in this business to win.”
The opportunity to go all in came from the rare situation of having so much cap room — and from having a roster that sorely needed more talent.
“We had the second or third-most cap room at the start of free agency,” Kraft told King, who points out that the Pats were third, with a $69 million excess. “This year, instead of having 10 or 12 teams competing for most of the top players, there were only two or three. And in my 27 years as owner, I’ve never had to come up with so much capital before.”
There’s irony in the outcome, however. The Patriots opted in 2021 to do the thing that the Patriots have privately ridiculed others for doing.
“[W]e always made fun of the teams that spent a lot in the offseason,” Kraft told King. “So we know nothing is guaranteed, and I’m very cognizant of that.”
That’s what makes this experiment so fascinating. Whether it works or whether it doesn’t, the Patriots are consciously and deliberately doing something that the Patriots have resisted in the past, because the Patriots believe it doesn’t work. This year, as the Patriots rebound from their first losing season since 2000, opportunity and necessity have collided. We’ll find out whether the end result is chocolate and peanut butter, or a far less palatable combination.