The easy thing is not always the right thing. That is the hardest part about running a successful NFL franchise. Unless you’re Bill Belichick, that is.
The hoodie and his minions — and/or staff — have always been very much about putting the business first. While some teams add players to try and liven up their fan base or re-sign guys based off emotion and sentimentalism, Belichick has a method.
Belichick doesn’t do old. He doesn’t do bad work ethic. He won’t sign off on big money – Tom Brady being the exception. He doesn’t have the patience for slow learners, and more than anything he focuses on the future and not the past.
That last one is why Wes Welker is now with the Denver Broncos. Belichick just isn’t the sentimental type, which is likely also why he’s so successful. He makes sound, rational decisions without allowing emotions to seep in and cloud his judgment.
The Welker decision was merely another example of Belichick making decisions with his head and not his heart. Seeing Belichick for who he is inside the confines of Gillette Stadium, there’s no question he appreciates the body of work Welker built over the past six seasons. But when it came down to decision time, it was business as usual.
In the eyes of the Patriots, Welker’s value was about $10 million and that was a hard-line stance. They gave him room to earn more money with incentives but in terms of guarantees that’s as far as they were willing to go. So, while Welker went off into free agency to get a couple million more out of John Elway and the Broncos, Belichick was focusing on his primary target all along: Danny Amendola.
Amendola was the target from the beginning of the three-day negotiating window, as reports have it, and the Patriots even had him signed at the open of the free agency on Tuesday — not even waiting for the Welker situation to play out the following afternoon.
Now, with a much younger Amendola — just 27 to Welker’s 31 — and plenty of money left to spend (about $19 million in salary cap space) the Patriots can pursue the veteran free agent help they so desire. Whether that be Aqib Talib, Adrian Wilson, John Abraham or any other number of available playmakers to improve this team, Belichick has a plan laid out and he’s following it.
There is a reason the Patriots are 151-57 during Belichick’s reign. They are the same reasons the Patriots have appeared in the playoffs in 10 of those 13 seasons. Why they’ve made five Super Bowl appearances and won three championships during the Belichick era. To quote a phrase often used negatively, he’s the smartest man in the room.
Belichick always stays ahead of the curve with innovative trends and team philosophies. He’s always looking to the future, only using the past as a guide. And more important than all, he treats the business of running a franchise just as should be. Like a business.
A number of factors contributed to the Patriots becoming the most successful team of the past decade plus. Tom Brady’s emergence as one the greatest players of all time is one. Robert Kraft‘s willingness to spend money and commitment to winning is another. A little bit of luck — adios, tuck rule — always plays a role. But the biggest piece of all has been Belichick.
So, feel free to question his logic behind something as complicated as letting Welker walk. Not everyone can be happy, nor will they ever be. There are always going to be doubters and haters. Some will continue to question why he did, others why he didn’t. But through it all the vast majority has to know his decisions are for the best, even if they disagree.
Welker’s situation was a little rough around the edges considering the history, so some anger and frustration is understandable for such a fan favorite. But with him won’t got the Patriots’ Super Bowl hopes like some may think.
Yes, the offseason plan may feel like madness right now, but there is a method to it. It’s worked time and time again for this franchise in the past and there’s no reason to start believing otherwise.
Belichick is still here, and as long as he’s around so will the championship chances.
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