July 6, 2022

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Why did Patriots let Tom Brady’s Bucs steal a…

3 min read
Why did Patriots let Tom Brady's Bucs steal a...


The Tom Brady Effect remains in full force. He can recruit anybody and everybody to Tampa Bay while the Buccaneers’ front office makes all the financials work, while teams like the New England Patriots fail to manipulate the very manipulatable NFL salary cap.

When it comes to free agency this offseason, the Patriots struck out big time, but not because they did a bad job recruiting. They simply spent all their money last offseason, and head coach Bill Belichick isn’t one to further complicate the team’s fiscal situation.

Then again, when it comes to the defense, perhaps he should’ve bent a little given the competition in the AFC, and even within the division. And whenever there’s a chance to reunite with a former Patriot, you’d think that’d entice Belichick to pull the trigger.

So when defensive tackle Akiem Hicks officially signed with the Bucs on Wednesday, it was a tough pill for some Patriots fans to swallow.

Not long ago, the Bucs had just over $3 million in cap space, but Brady restructured his contract to free up an additional $9 million, which opened the door for Hicks to join Vita Vea along what’s now arguably the strongest interior defensive line in the NFL.

Why won’t the Patriots manipulate the NFL salary cap?

The Patriots, on the other hand, went bargain shopping both in free agency and via trade, signing cornerback Malcolm Butler, safety Jabrill Peppers and cornerback Terrance Mitchell and acquiring wide receiver DeVante Parker and linebacker Mack Wilson. As it stands, they have just under $2 million to work with.

Yes, the Patriots needed help at all of those positions, but they also doubled down by selecting a wide receiver and two defensive backs in rounds 2,3 and 4 in the NFL Draft. They also used two other fourth-round picks on a quarterback (??) and a running back!

Meanwhile, the linebacking corps took a big hit this offseason, which is also a significant problem because the defensive line wasn’t particularly great in 2021. Now the new-look group of linebackers may have to pick up far more slack than they can handle.

Outside of Christian Barmore, the Patriots have hardly any stars or star potential along the defensive line. Deatrich Wise Jr., Lawrence Guy, Henry Anderson and Davon Godchaux can all hold down the fort to an extent … but not in an elite manner.

New England allowed the 11th-most rushing yards (2,103) in the NFL last season and it didn’t take long for opposing offensive lines to neutralize the D-line to focus more on edge rusher Matt Judon. The Patriots recorded just 36 sacks on the season (19th in NFL), which was arguably a result of the defensive line as a whole not registering enough pressure or freeing up opportunities for the guys on the outside.

Hicks would’ve helped add another fearsome element to the defense and allowed Belichick to do his favorite and cycle in a number of fresh D-linemen throughout the game to keep exhausting the opposing O-lines.

The Pats are running it back with the guys they have, and fans can only hope the young players and last year’s newcomers can take the next step in a big way to help avoid the defense getting gashed again in 2022.

Why did Patriots let Tom Brady’s Bucs steal a crucial free agent asset?