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So Far the Patriots Have Taken a Sane, Rational Approach to Free Agency. Now Let the Wild, Irresponsible Spending Spree Begin.

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Jacoby Brissett. Looking like the GOAT. On a Duckboat. With a brand new Lombardi. Carried aloft by another handsome young quarterback. This photo is a perfect illustration of what was playing inside the frontal lobe of my brain when it was announced he was making his triumphant return to New England. 

But not really. All I thought when the Patriots signed Brissett is that this guarantees they plan to take the best quarterback on the board when they draft at No. 3.  That their plan was to get into bidding wars for Kirk Cousins or Baker Mayfield; but to draft and develop the guy who's going to replace the guy who wasn't able to successfully replace The Guy. With Brissett as the placeholder veteran to guide the rookie along, and probably start the season, in the same way the 2017 Chiefs let Patrick Mahomes intern for Alex Smith until the final game of the season. 

And this move is a pretty fair representation of how the Pats have approached Free Agency season. Solid if unspectacular signings in the first 24 hours of the tampering period:

--Brissett as the bridge QB

--Antonio Gibson, the first legitimate 3rd down back they've had since James White got hurt in 2021

--Chukwuma Okorafor, versatile OT who adds depth to either end of the line

--Sione Takitaki, a LB and special teamer

None of whom is going to make you want to take out a second mortgage to buy a luxury suite. But is indictive of how the Eliot Wolf regime is choosing to do business so far. Their approach has been to take care of their own first. Keep what worked in 2023 and get rid of what didn't. And I can't fault them for that. Not when they've re-signed four of their top five free agents on my wish list. Including Kyle Dugger, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and late last night, my top priority:

Here's what I wrote a few weeks ago:

Onwenu was the absolute steal of that 2020 draft in New England. Another example of the franchise's genius for finding talent among the late round picks it's traditionally stockpiled. Coming as he did with the 182nd pick and making an impact right away, I think I can say without any fear of contradiction whatsoever that he is the best 6th round pick out of Michigan in team history. [Pause for ironic effect. Annnd resume.] The Patriots offensive line was nothing short of a Bruckheimerian disaster early on in the season, until they made the switch of kicking Onwenu from guard out to right tackle. And while no one would mistake them for Joe Gibbs' Hoggs of the '80s, they settled down for the most part and became a functioning, professional O-line, despite having mid-round rookies at both guard spots. There's a school of thought that says the Pats were reluctant to move Onwenu to tackle because he's in a contract year and they're much more expensive than guards. But Belichick's refusal to add a viable tackle alternative, either in the 2023 draft or in free agency, made it a must. And now he's going to get paid. With Trent Brown now predictably off the roster, this is the one legitimate NFL OT on the roster. It's not about saying we can't afford him. It's about acknowledging we can't afford to lose him.

And now they haven't lost him, he's here for the long haul. They didn't try to sign Onwenu on the cheap and just drive him into the open market. They didn't alienate him by Franchising him. Nor did they blow the budget to keep him. Instead they gave a 6th rounder who has way outplayed his draft status and made himself into one of the lone bright spots in their shitastic offense the payday he's earned. And in doing so, kept a bad situation from getting appreciably worse.

Now hopefully we're at the point where the solid but spectacular moves are over with and we get into the spectacular but spectacular ones. Because I for one am here for the spectacle. What's the point of having new management with the second most cap room to spend if they're not going to spend it in outrageous fashion? 

I look at Eliot Wolf as mom's new boyfriend who's come to stay with us for a while. And I want him to win my respect the old fashioned way: Buying it. This was always the time of year where my actual dad would take a sane, rational, responsible approach. He'd think about the long term and not make rash decisions. He'd get us practical things we actually need at reasonable prices. Well he's gone now. I wanted him to stay. But it wasn't up to me. Now I expect stepdad to blow me away with his generosity. I want state-of-the-art. The newest tech. Laptops, phones, a gaming chair, an Apple Vision Pro. Whatever the hell spoiled rich kids are demanding in exchange for their love these days. 

Again, the old approached worked. At least it worked when we had a solid base, a deep bench, veterans coming here for short money to chase rings, and the best quarterback who's ever walked among us mortals. None of those apply any more. So now is the time to get crazy. To blow money like a Saudi Oil Prince on Rodeo Drive. Let's get fiscal. Fiscally irresponsible, I mean. For once I want to be one of those fanbases who gets to experience the pure, high-fructose sugar rush of buying talent. For once, I want to know what it feels like win March. 

We've kept Onwenu, Dugger, Henry, Bourne and I assume Anfernee Jennings won't be a tough sign. Plus we've added a capable veteran bridge QB and a pass catching back. Now that business is settled, and there's only one approach I want to see.

Giphy Images.