The Patriots have been getting a lot of negative press of late, and it's drawing attention to their strategy of buying low and selling high. The Patriots are known for bringing in questionable players, turning them into highly productive parts of their team and trading them away for far higher picks than they originally used to draft the player. When it works, it's extremely lucrative, and gives the team ammunition to stay at the top of the league. When it fails, it gets ugly quick. That's the nature of a high risk, high reward game.
Part of the problem, at least according to SI's Peter King, is that Belichick hasn't had anyone to challenge him on personnel decisions since Scott Pioli left back in 2009.
"But," a source with knowledge of the Patriots' front office told King, "there's no one there with Scott's balls anymore. Bill needs someone to challenge him, and I don't think he has that now."
As far as the Patriots' record goes, Pioli's absence hasn't impacted the Patriots in a negative way. The Patriots have been consistently better since he left, with the exception of New England's 16-0 campaign in 2007.
The Patriots are, right now, in the worst position they've been in recent memory. Their offense is a mishmash of no-name talent surrounding Tom Brady, and that defense is nothing to write home about. At this point, it looks like Bill Belichick has put the Patriots in a tough position. Maybe Peter King's source is right. Someone in New England needs to grow a set and stand up to Belichick.