You could hear the grumbling of Patriot fans all across the country as Bill Belichick and the Patriots personnel staff made a record eight draft day trades this year. The frustration is understandable; the team’s loss in Super Bowl LII to a Nick Foles-led offense made it glaringly clear that the Patriots defense is in need of a serious infusion of talent. Many fans wanted the team to address certain defensive needs in the draft, particularly with their linebacking corps.
It’s easy for fans and media buffs to look at Belichick’s trades as baffling, as he is trading current assets for future assets that aren’t helping the team in 2018. However, it is important to understand that there is a method to the madness with Trader Bill. It’s important to understand that it’s only April. The NFL regular season doesn’t start for four months, and then it’s another six to eight weeks before the top teams separate themselves from the rest of the pack. That is a very long way off, and it is impossible to predict what is going to happen between now and then. It’s also impossible to predict what a team’s “needs” are. For example, Nate Solder leaving in the offseason makes offensive tackle appear as a need right now, but the team could get into camp and LaAdrian Waddle or Anthony Garcia could emerge as an All-Pro-caliber tackle. Obviously, that isn’t likely, but it’s not impossible, which makes it hard to make decisions now and ensure that they are the exact right ones for the team comes September.
That is exactly why Belichick trades for future picks. He does not know exactly what the team will need come September or October or even later, so he builds up future picks to make pre-season or in-season trades. For example, look at the Patriots transactions over the past four seasons. They have acquired the following players through pre-season and in-season trades:
Kyle Van Noy
Now, none of those names might jump off the page at you, but each one of them was a key player in the Patriots past three Super Bowl runs. Belichick identifies weaknesses with his team as it’s developing, and uses the future picks that he gains now to strengthen the team at the moment. It’s impossible to tell in April what the roster’s weaknesses will be in September, so Belichick makes sure that he has the ammunition to improve his team as he sees fit.
These decisions certainly don’t always work out, as the trades for Barkevious Mingo and Cassius Marsh illustrate. However, there is no more guarantee of success with a rookie than there is with bringing in veterans. For example, Cyrus Jones was a second-round pick in 2015 and proceeded to come in and make a negative impact on the team.
It may seem like Bill is crazy, and I certainly don’t always agree with his decisions, as there were some very solid players in the draft that could have helped the team. However, one can guarantee that Belichick will use some of those picks before the 2018 trade deadline to improve the New England Patriots.
Until next time – B$