PFT’s 2021 executive of the year: Bill Belichick

New England Patriots v Indianapolis Colts
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After the Patriots went 7-9 in the first year of the post-Tom Brady era, the franchise elected to do something different in the offseason.

The team stormed out of the gates in free agency, committing significant money to players like linebacker Matthew Judon, tight end Hunter Henry, tight end Jonnu Smith, and cornerback Jalen Mills.

New England also brought back offensive tackle Trent Brown, acquiring him from the Raiders for a fifth-round pick.

The flurry of deals was uncharacteristic of how the team has operated for many years under Bill Belichick, the team’s head coach and de facto General Manager.

And while New England initially brought back quarterback Cam Newton after he started 15 games for the club in 2020, the team then elected to use its first-round pick on quarterback Mac Jones.

Jones was thought of by some as a potential top-five pick. But the Patriots didn’t have to use any extra draft capital to select the former Alabama quarterback, waiting to pick him at their own spot at No. 15 overall.

After a training camp quarterback competition, the Patriots elected to release Cam Newton and make Jones an unquestioned QB1. It’s only been a season, but Jones looks the part so far, having completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 picks as a rookie.

And now the Patriots are back in the postseason after compiling a 10-7 record.

For Belichick’s shrewd deals and acquisitions, he is PFT’s 2021 executive of the year.

Judon has been one of the year’s most effective free agent signings, recording 12.5 sacks in his first year as a Patriot. Kyle Van Noy, who New England also brought back in free agency, is second on the team with 5.0.

Henry was especially effective as a red zone target, catching a team-high nine touchdowns. Kendrick Bourne signed a three-year, $15 million deal and was second on the team with five TD receptions.
As for rookies, second-round defensive tackle Christian Barmore played in all 17 games, recording 46 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. And fourth-round running back Rhamondre Stevenson finished second on the team with 606 yards rushing with five touchdowns.

There were other contenders for executive of the year. Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst made several moves to keep Green Bay at the top of the NFC for the second year in a row — including trading for receiver Randall Cobb and picking up cornerback Rasul Douglas. And Bucs G.M. Jason Licht helped bring back all of Tampa Bay’s starters and key role players from the team’s Super Bowl victory last year.

But after significantly re-tooling the roster to bring New England back to the postseason, Belichick gets the nod.

62 responses to “PFT’s 2021 executive of the year: Bill Belichick

  1. Howie Roseman saved the Eagles by unloading 103 mil and Wentz on the colts. Also snagged 3 firsts

  2. So Bill Belichick won Executive of the Year because he set the bar so low for himself previously thanks to years of lousy draft picks?

    How about Jason Licht who resigned every Super Bowl starter for the first time in the history of the salary cap era? Did we forget about that one?

  3. I had Trent Baalke but I see the argument for Bill. I feel like I heard Baalke’s name more than any other GM though

  4. Forced to spend a boatload on free agents because you botched the draft the last few years, then gets executive of the year? Checks out.

  5. Obviously the right call going with Jones as QB1. Even if it means the kid takes his rookie lumps.

    Couldn’t stomach another season of watching Cant try to throw a football like a shotput.

  6. They lost a few close ones and could have easily been 12-5 or 13-4. Mac Jones, despite being the 5th QB picked, had the best year of the rookie QBs. Time will tell who becomes the Rick Mirer or Ryan Leaf of the bunch.

  7. I have a hard time with the Belichick as GOAT coach argument.

    He has the most rings so that’s one argument. But that has to do with players more than coaches and Bill even said so himself.

    It’s indisputable Bill is one of the all time greats. But how do you say – for example Bill > Lombardi? What makes Bill greater than Lombardi? And vice versa? It’s tough. Bill had all his success with one QB as we all know. So did Noll. So did Walsh. Then there’s Joe Gibbs who proved he could win no matter who his QB is. Bill has also benefited from being the only legendary coach in the game in his era. Gibbs had to deal with the likes of Landry and Walsh in his era. So is Gibbs better than Bill? What about Shula? Shula’s coaching tree is better than Bill’s. Also has more wins. But Shula had Marino and couldn’t win any rings with him. So what does that tell you? You could go in circles all day on this.

    For me Bill belongs in the top tier of coaches with a handful of others and then I’ll let everyone else argue over that. 🙂

  8. Can’t believe I am going to say this;

    Mike Brown

    To have that blind squirrel actually find a pile of nuts after all this time?! It simply must be celebrated.

  9. I can’t tell ya how many times in the past he deserved to win it, so this year, it’s a slam dunk.

    There’s not really one GM who is in the same ballpark in NFL history, so I guess this sort of has penalized him for 20 years.

    He should have won in 2014, 2016, with the in-season trades that no one ever does, to help those teams win SBs and out them over the top, amongst other seasons as well, but he gets punished for some odd reason, other than jealousy.

    It’s not 2001 when they ended up winning it all (unlikely), but the draft and FAs were pretty darn good and the bashing he took as he strategically rebuilt overnight was outrageously great.

    The jealousy is so strong, people can’t stand it when he quietly succeeds.

    Thanks to the greatest GM and Coach who ever lived. Thanks for everything.

  10. LOL.

    $100 Million shopping spree to get swept by Miami.

    And they still need a QB for the future. Or they can just keep Mac Jones to the delight of the rest of the division.

    LOL.

    Bill Belichek?

  11. One of BB’s “great free-agent finds” was Nelson Agholor. The executive of the year took a receiver who had 80 receptions and 10 TDs and transformed his into a 37 reception 3 TD blip on the screen. Good thing he won executive of the year and not coach of the year!

  12. Jason Licht?
    Super Bowl win – check
    Ample cash available – check
    Warm weather – check
    No state income tax – check
    Tom Brady – check

    Did Licht even have to work at it?

  13. Belichick is the GOAT because he’s had his success during the years of free agency. Back in the day coaches go their same squads back year after year for the most part, and if they were talent laden rosters you could consistently win as you didn’t have other teams poaching your players. Add that Belichick won SB without Parcells, but Parcells never won a SB without Belichick. So when thinking about those Giants Championships, that should be taken into consideration. Not trying to bash BP either.

  14. buttfumbles says:
    January 12, 2022 at 10:14 am
    Forced to spend a boatload on free agents because you botched the draft the last few years, then gets executive of the year? Checks out.

    19 19 Rate This

    ——————–

    The drafts the last few years were fine. Harris, Meyers, 2 All Pro Special Teamers, a very highly rated OL in Onwenu, Kyle Dugger, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    It’s all been a media lie on the heels of Brady being shown the door.

    BB had a right to rebuild properly in the cap era, and he’s done it again. He does it every 10 years. 2001, 2011, 2021.

    And, that’s with a cheating commissioner and teams stealing his coaches almost annually to try to weaken his teams.

    Enjoy the view. Real Pats fans will.

  15. …swept by Miami. Tough break. Its not like Miami dominated. NE fumbled on the 9 yard line in week one near the end, needing a FG to win.
    Lost to the SB champs by 2 (missed long FG), lost to Dallas in OT, spotted the Colts 14 pts almost came back. Yeah, I think money was well spent. Could have been 12-5 or better.

  16. I would never have guessed that BB and TB12 would actually thrive without each other.

    For those who get tired of these coaching searches that involve so many recycled failures, it’s important to remember that BB first coached the Cleveland Browns. When his bio is written I think what he learned from a failed gig will be seen as part of the pathway to his success.

  17. GoodellMustGo says:
    January 12, 2022 at 10:19 am
    I have a hard time with the Belichick as GOAT coach argument.

    He has the most rings so that’s one argument. But that has to do with players more than coaches and Bill even said so himself.

    It’s indisputable Bill is one of the all time greats. But how do you say – for example Bill > Lombardi? What makes Bill greater than Lombardi? And vice versa? It’s tough. Bill had all his success with one QB as we all know. So did Noll. So did Walsh. Then there’s Joe Gibbs who proved he could win no matter who his QB is. Bill has also benefited from being the only legendary coach in the game in his era. Gibbs had to deal with the likes of Landry and Walsh in his era. So is Gibbs better than Bill? What about Shula? Shula’s coaching tree is better than Bill’s. Also has more wins. But Shula had Marino and couldn’t win any rings with him. So what does that tell you? You could go in circles all day on this.

    For me Bill belongs in the top tier of coaches with a handful of others and then I’ll let everyone else argue over that. 🙂
    —————
    I do not think you can consider any pre-free agency and salary cap coach when talking about BB. Just my personal opinion.

  18. Lol at the guy arguing that Joe Gibbs might be the greatest coach of all time!! Thanks for the laugh!!

  19. Oh, gee. I guess spending like a sailor on shore leave make for a good executive. BB found out what’s it’s like to be a cheap without Brady.

  20. Patriots won ten games against teams with a collective combined record of 67-103. They lost seven games to teams with a collective record of 72-47. Of their 10 wins, three were against teams with winning records, Tenn, Buffalo and the Chargers.

    If those three wins are the measure of GM of the Year, it seems a low threshold of success.

    The Steelers beat Buffalo and Tenn as well and should have beat the Chargers. Had they done so, their record would have been 10-6-1, better than NE 10-7 and they arguably played the toughest schedule any team this year. No one, including myself, would suggest that that their GM should even be considered for that award.

    Seems like their are better candidates for the award, for example, the GMs of the Cardinals, Bengals, Titans, 49ers and Bucs.

  21. gronkhof says:
    January 12, 2022 at 10:50 am
    Jason Licht?
    Super Bowl win – check
    Ample cash available – check
    Warm weather – check
    No state income tax – check
    Tom Brady – check

    Did Licht even have to work at it?

    1 8 Rate This

    ——————–

    No, and then thing is, that team is going to blow up spectacularly past this season. Just watch.

    Brady acts like he’ll be an automatic every year as he ages, and it’s just hilarious. His frustration with younger players they draft will build, Licht will cave in and try to buy players annually, and the continuity will be off because this isn’t the NBA like Brady thinks it is.

  22. txpatsfan says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:02 am
    GoodellMustGo says:
    January 12, 2022 at 10:19 am
    I have a hard time with the Belichick as GOAT coach argument.

    He has the most rings so that’s one argument. But that has to do with players more than coaches and Bill even said so himself.

    It’s indisputable Bill is one of the all time greats. But how do you say – for example Bill > Lombardi? What makes Bill greater than Lombardi? And vice versa? It’s tough. Bill had all his success with one QB as we all know. So did Noll. So did Walsh. Then there’s Joe Gibbs who proved he could win no matter who his QB is. Bill has also benefited from being the only legendary coach in the game in his era. Gibbs had to deal with the likes of Landry and Walsh in his era. So is Gibbs better than Bill? What about Shula? Shula’s coaching tree is better than Bill’s. Also has more wins. But Shula had Marino and couldn’t win any rings with him. So what does that tell you? You could go in circles all day on this.

    For me Bill belongs in the top tier of coaches with a handful of others and then I’ll let everyone else argue over that. 🙂
    —————
    I do not think you can consider any pre-free agency and salary cap coach when talking about BB. Just my personal opinion.


    That’s fair and it’s an argument in favor of Bill being GOAT that he’s had to deal with that and the roster turnover and other coaches haven’t.

    Point was other than rings it’s not that easy of an argument one way or the other to figure out if Bill is the greatest. And players win rings not coaches. Even Bill himself has said it’s a player’s game and he was just lucky to be able to coach great players over the years that made him win a lot as a coach.

  23. It’s nice to see Bill FINALLY being recognized for all his greatness… In the salary cap/free agency era & putting together the run he has is just beyond belief….picking at or near the very end of the draft year after year ( along with getting so many high draft picks STOLEN by a jealous league & commissioner that was TRYING to create the parity that BOTH the salary cap & free agency were supposed to be providing but wasn’t….making it back to the playoffs after just 1 year after losing perhaps the greatest player to ever step on a football field (although that could go as a strike against him), but alas how was anyone to know Brady could continue at this pace at his age when NOBODY ever has come close….Still, it looks like he was able to land a franchise QB WITHOUT GIVING UP ANY FUTURE DRAFT CAPITAL….. THAT in itself is enough to qualify as GM OF THE DECADE right there….
    Truly BLESSED!!!!

  24. Six of their ten wins came against teams with losing records. They barely beat the Texans. They only beat two teams that are headed to the playoffs (Tennessee–without Derrick Henry– and 1-1 against Buffalo). Sure, they lost some close games so their record could have been better. They also won a some close games so they could have been worse. They benefitted from a very weak schedule. Their opponent’s winning percentage was 0.491.

    Signing Judon and Van Noy were good moves. Drafting Mac Jones was a good move but let’s not qualify that as the best or smartest draft pick of all time. He’s very limited as a QB. Jones, like Wentz, is at his best when he’s handing the ball off. Nearly every pass he throws is short. Pretending he’s TB 2.0 is laughable. But all we heard this off-season was how the Patriots are back to the Super Bowl. BB had all that money to spend and they barely made the playoffs even with a weak schedule. An unbiased opinion would have selected someone else like maybe Gutekunst.

  25. I do not think you can consider any pre-free agency and salary cap coach when talking about BB. Just my personal opinion.
    ==========

    Sure, it was a nice luxury to keep teams together. But every team got to do that. Shouldn’t that make for better teams? More cohesiveness. Less turnover.

  26. Brian Gutekunst didn’t have tons of money to throw around, but he signed Campbell, and that helped to make Green Bay’s defense decent for the first time in years. Signed Rasul Douglas off the AZ practice squad, and Douglas has finished off a some key victories for them. Plus he got a couple of key starters from the most recent draft class. He should be an easy choice.

  27. Lol at the guy arguing that Joe Gibbs might be the greatest coach of all time!! Thanks for the laugh!!
    ==========

    3 Titles with 3 different QBs.

    Against some of the best ever; Walsh, Parcells/Belichick, Monsters of the Midway

    He’s in the conversation.

  28. Lets put it this way … with Brady, well what coach would not have enjoyed the spoils and imagine how it could have worked out if they had half decent receivers during all those glory years besides one or two … but taking it to the modern day … the team now is meh to OK .. so if he beats better talented teams in the playoffs with coaching and not talent .. then yes you would have to grudgingly admit dang this dude is OK !! … so the results will await … me ?? its gonna take a few more years of smart and lucky rebuilding !!

  29. itsamadmadmadmadworld says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:31 am
    Six of their ten wins came against teams with losing records. They barely beat the Texans. They only beat two teams that are headed to the playoffs (Tennessee–without Derrick Henry– and 1-1 against Buffalo). Sure, they lost some close games so their record could have been better. They also won a some close games so they could have been worse. They benefitted from a very weak schedule. Their opponent’s winning percentage was 0.491.

    Signing Judon and Van Noy were good moves. Drafting Mac Jones was a good move but let’s not qualify that as the best or smartest draft pick of all time. He’s very limited as a QB. Jones, like Wentz, is at his best when he’s handing the ball off. Nearly every pass he throws is short

    ———-

    Jones had played one season with a tight leash on his neck. Before the bye week he was in the top 2 QBs for completion %. But he had struggled since the bye. But please, let’s not put the kid in the Carson Wentz category….

  30. pukashell says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:14 am

    The Steelers beat Buffalo and Tenn as well and should have beat the Chargers

    ————

    Are there a separate set of standings based on what teams “should have” done? If you want to look at it that way the Steelers should have lost to the Lions

  31. Whatever naysayers.
    BB made it a 1 year…ONE YEAR rebuilding in NE. This is not a small thing. I’ve been watching the ‘fins, Lions and Jets rebuild my whole life. I’ve watched great teams just fall apart after a single superbowl appearance…Atlanta comes to mind in recent memory.

  32. Hendrickson
    Awuzie
    Ogunjobi
    Hilton
    Apple

    And dont forget everybody saying to draft Penei Sewell. Bengals took Chase. Bengals draft Sewell and we are watchingbthe playoffs.

  33. Ok, so he committed 230 million in guaranteed money and hasn’t won anything yet. If he gets beat in Buffalo and is out in the 1st rd, I’m not sure Kraft is throwing a victory party.

  34. Missin’ Again Crosby says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:42 am
    Lol at the guy arguing that Joe Gibbs might be the greatest coach of all time!! Thanks for the laugh!!
    ==========

    3 Titles with 3 different QBs.

    Against some of the best ever; Walsh, Parcells/Belichick, Monsters of the Midway

    He’s in the conversation.

    —-
    And an offensive innovator. Created the 2 TE set. We all know about Belichick as a defensive genius – Gibbs was just like that for offense. Also coached replacement players to a win over NFL regulars during a strike year.

    And someone scoffs at Gibbs as an all time great coach. 😂

  35. Missin’ Again Crosby says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:42 am
    Lol at the guy arguing that Joe Gibbs might be the greatest coach of all time!! Thanks for the laugh!!
    ==========

    3 Titles with 3 different QBs.

    Against some of the best ever; Walsh, Parcells/Belichick, Monsters of the Midway

    He’s in the conversation.

    ———–
    And to add to that – the guys he did win with weren’t hall of famers or even great QBs at all. Maybe Theismann but that’s it.

    That would be like Belichick winning Super Bowls with Bledsoe, Hoyer and Vinny Testaverde.

  36. RE LEE says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:10 am
    Oh, gee. I guess spending like a sailor on shore leave make for a good executive. BB found out what’s it’s like to be a cheap without Brady.
    ————
    People who say this just do not understand what is going on. With COVID the cap went down significantly, and while other teams struggled to get under the cap, because NE’s cap was well managed, they could firewall their cap and pick up much needed talent.

    Now what is going to happen? With ratings way up and butts in seats, revenue is going to g way up resulting in likely the biggest jump in the cap in history. And BB will have another $25 million to spend. And there is nothing as cheap in the NFL as a rookie starting QB.

  37. majormalphunktion says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:56 am
    Whatever naysayers.
    BB made it a 1 year…ONE YEAR rebuilding in NE. This is not a small thing. I’ve been watching the ‘fins, Lions and Jets rebuild my whole life. I’ve watched great teams just fall apart after a single superbowl appearance…Atlanta comes to mind in recent memory.

    —-
    It’s not a really 1 year rebuilding. NE’s defense can’t stop the run and doesn’t have the personnel to do that. That defense is not close to being ready to contend for a title. Needs to be rebuilt this offseason.

  38. Six of their ten wins came against teams with losing records. They barely beat the Texans. They only beat two teams that are headed to the playoffs (Tennessee–without Derrick Henry– and 1-1 against Buffalo). Sure, they lost some close games so their record could have been better. They also won a some close games so they could have been worse. They benefitted from a very weak schedule. Their opponent’s winning percentage was 0.491.

    This lame argument AGAIN..

    Last season the Packers beat 10 teams with a losing record
    All we heard about the Bucs going into the plays was “they didn’t beat a team with a winning record “ “they lost to the Saints and chiefs “

    How did that work out?

    It absolutely NOTHING when the playoffs start.

    What team beat a bunch of teams with winning records?
    Answer , no team.

  39. They lost a few close ones and could have easily been 12-5 or 13-4. Mac Jones, despite being the 5th QB picked, had the best year of the rookie QBs. Time will tell who becomes the Rick Mirer or Ryan Leaf of the bunch.

    They also won a few close ones so their record is probably where it should be so they could very easily be 6 wins as well.
    Now the bills won every game by 12 or more points and lost 3 games they could have won. Tampa, Tennessee and New England as well as the raiders. They legit could have been 15-2 but we all know that usually doesn’t work that way.
    New England is about 8-10 win team and buffalo is 11-13 win team. Both teams are right where their rosters say they should be

  40. GoodellMustGo says:
    January 12, 2022 at 12:15

    It’s not a really 1 year rebuilding. NE’s defense can’t stop the run and doesn’t have the personnel to do that. That defense is not close to being ready to contend for a title. Needs to be rebuilt this offseason.
    ———
    NE is top 5 in just about every defensive category except run defense, where they are 22nd. The Chiefs, Raiders and AZ are 19-21, so I guess they need to blow up their Ds also? Of the top 10 run defenses 4 didn’t even make the playoffs.

    Run D is of a concern for NE but not to the extent they need to ‘blow it up’.

  41. A one-year rebuild with a mid-1st round rookie QB..thrown into the fire from day one…and he had the team competing for the division…and is now in the playoffs.

    Yeah. Bill B is that good.

  42. For all those who take shots at BB’s drafts, keep in mind that the Pats AVERAGE 1st pick for almost 20 years was in the 28-29 neighborhood. Next WORST was PIT at about 15-16. That relative position at the end of the round wasn’t just the 1st round, but for all rounds.

  43. Anyone but Jason Licht is the wrong answer.
    ==========

    Antonio Brown disqualifies him.

  44. I think Jerry Jones has put together an awesome roster. Cowboys were the highest scoring team in the league.

  45. Envy is one if the ugliest emotions. Bill has none of it himself but he is the target of so much it betrays his greatness.

  46. One and done come Sunday. Then Pats fans can celebrate the 230 mil, 10-8 season. 1 win per 23 mil. Then he retires knowing he’ll never win another Lombardi without TB12.

  47. Need to start an award for GM’s like Dave Gettlemen he has royally screwed up the Panthers and Giants both for years to come.

  48. Back in the hunt after all the people who hate the Pat’s said they would never contend wrong again. its also just the start they are in year 2 of a rebuild with a rookie qb and are only going to add more pieces they will still be a thorn in the side of all who hate them.

  49. itsamadmadmadmadworld says:
    January 12, 2022 at 11:31 am
    Six of their ten wins came against teams with losing records.

    ——————————
    Fun fact, ALL teams in the NFL faced teams with loosing records some weeks this year, that includes all playoff teams. Hope this helps.

  50. Most GMs don’t spend most of their time coaching. A good coach should outrank the GM
    ==========

    3 of the best I’ve seen did both; Belichick, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Walsh

    Not as good, but Parcells, Pete Carroll and Mike Holmgren did fine for themselves as well.

    .. Halas, Paul Brown, Lombardi

    Depends on the guy.

    Belichick is a master. He can pick my team any day!

  51. To me Exec of the year should be Brian Gutekunst, GB Packers, and it’s not close. He began the year with the ultimate diva drama, his HOF QB throwing him under the bus. Somehow, he keeps the bus on the road and manages to conduct a draft that, at present, looks like it will earn a B-grade at worst, potentially an A. Amidst that drama, he signs Devondre Campbell for an absurdly low price, and the guy literally stabalizes their entire defense. Now sprinkle in injuries, they lose dozens of games from all pro players Baktiari, Zadarius Smith, Jaire Alexander and 2-3 other significant players. He signs a guy from the AZ practice squad that 2-3 teams have given up on–Rasul Douglas, and that guy balls out to pro bowl alternate level. He’s been so good, the Packers won’t be able to afford to resign him, same for Campbell. Then the Packers go 13-4 and it appears they’ve mended the relationship with the HOF diva…..any questions? Oh yeah, number 1 seed, and a good shot at a super bowl.

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