Sunday 7: Do Tom Brady’s contract negotiations, offseason spending indicate shift in Patriots’ philosophy?

Ryan Hannable
August 11, 2019 - 6:00 am

1. The biggest news of the week for the Patriots came with Tom Brady’s “contract extension,” which will have him become a free agent following this season. The organization likely wanted to sign him for a few more seasons, but not at what the quarterback was looking for. Looking further into things, it could be an indication of a shift in philosophy for the team with more of an importance being placed on defense. The team had a lot of holes at receiver and tight end this offseason and not much was done to fix them. According to Spotrac, the Patriots rank 17th in spending at wide receiver and 25th at tight end. Overall, they rank 23rd in cap spending on offense, but third on defense. Five of the highest cap hits for 2019 are on defensive players. This has slowly changed over the years. Last year, the Patriots spent the 14th-most money on both offense and defense, while in 2017 the offense was 11th and the defense 18th. If the Patriots are indeed placing more of an emphasis on defense, to them maybe it wasn’t worth overspending even a little at quarterback, despite it being Brady. Maybe, they would rather spend the money on the other side of the ball. Bill Belichick has never given special treatment to any player and Brady seems to be experiencing it now with his contract with perhaps more of an eye to the defense than in recent years.

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2. Last week was a huge one for rookie N’Keal Harry. It seems the first-round pick turned a corner following a tough first few days of training camp where he looked to be thinking too much and it impacted his ability to make easy catches. His two contested catches in Thursday’s preseason game were huge for his confidence and also showed why the Patriots picked him No. 32 overall. But, his development may be stopped — at least for a little bit. According to Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald, Harry is likely going to miss some practice time with an undisclosed injury suffered while making his second catch. This is not great news for the rookie, who needs all the practice/game reps he can get.

3. There were 28 players who did not play in the first preseason game and one of the more interesting ones was rookie running back Damien Harris. This came following him not seeing many reps in any of the practice sessions to open the summer. Veteran Brandon Bolden has seen the bulk of the carries and that doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense considering he’s a eight-year veteran and Harris has only been in the league a few short months. He needs the carries more than Bolden does. This is worth watching as maybe there’s something going on behind the scenes we are not aware of.

4. One of the most impressive players from Thursday was Jamie Collins, who seems primed for a huge year in his first one back in New England after a few seasons in Cleveland. If the game was any indication, we could see him rushing the passer a lot this season and with his athleticism and speed, it’s a huge mismatch for any tackle or running back. Given Collins only signed a one-year deal, he will be motivated to have a great season and turn that into a big contract next offseason.

5. There was a lot of talk surrounding the No. 10 this week when Harry originally was going to have it, but then switched to No. 8. Of course, this led many to try and connect it to Josh Gordon potentially being reinstated. This likely did not have anything to do with Gordon, but anything even remotely close to the suspended wide out these days generates a ton of buzz.

6. Belichick didn’t give much on who was calling the defensive plays when asked about it on a conference call Friday morning. It appeared first-year inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo had the duties in the game, but maybe Belichick doesn’t want to acknowledge it to put any more pressure on him? The coach never reveals anything like that, so it’s not all that surprising, but is worth trying to get actual confirmation because it is significant.

7. The Patriots will hold joint sessions in Tennessee with the Titans Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Saturday’s second preseason game and it will interesting to watch how they approach them. The Patriots suffered one of their worst losses of the year — 34-10 last November — so perhaps some revenge could be on their mind. With much of the team returning, we wonder if Belichick will bring this up at all to try and get even more out of his team.

Related: Jay Glazer explains how Josh Gordon can get reinstated by NFL