Did the New England Patriots Sleep Through the Offseason?

Joe AlbertContributor IApril 12, 2010

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots covers his mouth as he looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

With the 2010 NFL Draft coming up, the New England Patriots have done close to nothing to better their team.

On top of that, the rival New York Jets have done close to anything to better their team and their chances to take the AFC East title from the Patriots.

What is going on in Foxborough? Is anything going on in Foxborough?

Let’s take the high road first and look at some reasons as to why the Pats have yet to make a significant move.

First, we’ll pretend that they are scared of what could happen in the 2011 season and that they do not want to pay too many players to be under contract through that season. There are whispers that the 2011 season could involve anything from a dreaded work stoppage and strike from the players to a hard salary cap for every team.

It is better to have extra money to spend under the cap than it is to have to cut and trade key players in order to get under the salary cap.

Another reason the Patriots might not have made any significant moves is because they did not think very highly of the players that were moved via trades or free agency. Most of the running backs are over-the-hill players that may or may not make a significant impact on their new teams. The wide receivers all carry a lot of baggage. The linebackers were too old or too pricey. Not many defensive backs were moved.

Okay, enough blowing smoke. The Patriots have the money, the core, the ownership, and the coaching to be a great team. They just did not feel like competing for the Super Bowl or even the AFC East this year. Pure and simple.

Most of the players that were traded or signed this offseason would have had a huge impact on the Patriots roster, but nobody was brought in. Yes, Vince Wilfork and Leigh Bodden both re-signed, which is key, but Alge Crumpler and David Patten? Really?

Crumpler is an old—and getting older—tight end, and Patten wasn’t even in the league last year. Not only that, but good old Alge is the only TE with any NFL experience. The Pats needed a receiver, and with names like Brandon Marshall, Santonio Holmes, and Anquan Boldin on the move, they reached out to former WR Patten. That’s the best they could do?

Look at all the running backs that moved. There’s not even enough room to list them in this post. But what do the Pats do? They keep trying to sell Laurence Maroney as somebody that is just about to have a breakout season when everyone but them seem to know that he is not an NFL-caliber RB that can be relied on day in and day out.

The other RBs on the team aren’t everyday guys either, and they aren’t getting younger. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is one seemingly bright spot in a dull position, but who is going to tell Sammie Morris and Fred Taylor that they are going to lose playing time to a practice squad player?

The Patriots literally have sat around and watched the Jets turn themselves into favorites for the division and most likely a top-five favorite for the Super Bowl. How have the Patriots gone from the biggest attraction to free agents to a team that it doesn’t even seem like Terrell Owens would want to join?

Unfortunately, it seems that the same reason the Patriots were once the NFL’s favorite team is the same reason that they are now almost a taboo: Bill Belichick. After all of the question-dodging and player-punishing antics in the last three years, it seems everyone’s favorite coach has fallen from grace. His own players seem to not even be on his side, so how and why would anybody else want to join his ranks?

Nobody is calling for him to be fired; it just seems like he has got to realize that people are no longer buying into the “I did it because I’m Bill Belichick” rationale, and he needs to realize it. He needs to change his dictatorship way of thinking into something that his players can and will buy into again.

If he doesn’t, it seems that the Patriots won’t see the driver’s seat of the AFC East for a long time while they work to rebuild and try to convince free agents that it is still a great place to be.

Check out my Patriots' 2010 NFL Draft Preview to see how the Pats may be able to answer some of these questions.