The Patriots are in an unfamiliar situation. The offense has struggled mightily under Cam Newton through the first half of the year and the defense has taken a number of steps back from the dominant group it was a season ago. All that has resulted in New England sitting with a 2-5 record and in third place in the AFC East after Week 8. As things stand currently, the two-decade run of dominance appears to be on the brink, if not already off the ledge.
Over the weekend, Bill Belichick joined former assistant coach Charlie Weis on his Sirius XM NFL Radio show and the former Patriots offensive coordinator asked Belichick why he was playing such a high number of younger players. Weis theorized that could be the reason New England — playing with its youngest roster since 2016 — could be struggling. While Belichick acknowledged that the Patriots have been playing younger players this season, he noted it was more centered on restrictions the team had with the salary cap.
Belichick was asked about those comments during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” as some perceived that as potentially an excuse for the club’s struggles in 2020. That said, Belichick didn’t see it as excuse-making, rather the reality of where the franchise is at financially.
“Look, we paid Cam Newton $1 million. I mean it’s obvious we didn’t have any money. It’s nobody’s fault,” he said, via WEEI.com. “That’s what we did the last five years. We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in a AFC Championship Game. This year we had less to work with. It’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact.”
When asked if this turn of events was inevitable, he said, “The structure of the league is the structure of the league. That isn’t going to change.”
While 2020 is shaping up to be a lost season for New England, the salary cap restraints will loosen for the Patriots this offseason as it is potentially looking at having the fourth-most cap space heading into the 2021 offseason to help spark a rebuild.