Robert Kraft has established a great track record for making smart business decisions, so when he does make an official recommendation, it’s usually worth heeding.
So when he recently shared suggestions for the management of the New England Patriots, the team he has owned since 1994, someone should definitely be taking copious notes. And maybe managers from other teams too.
In 2021, Robert Kraft said doing well in the draft is vitally important. This is one of the phrases that seems to go without saying, but when someone does say it, it’s important. Since “how important is the draft, really?” is one of those questions that armchair analysts love to tackle.
Although “very important” has been the stock answer for years, when that was the best way for teams to pick up potentially great players, the advent of free agency has changed that whole equation.
Now, you not only have great players coming in through the traditional routes of excelling in college ball or doing well in other leagues, you have seasoned players who know the game and know the ropes at the pro level. These guys are in it for the money, sure, but also are ready to be appreciated by a team willing to come up with the money and a supportive environment where they could see lots of action.
As in Tampa Bay’s case, coming up with the cash for even one prestigious player could make a substantial difference in a team’s reputation as well as its overall performance.
The fact that this example was a former New England Patriots player gives even more weight to Robert Kraft’s words.
In 2021, Kraft authorized spending up to $155 million in guaranteed money to help the team’s draft efforts. A quarterback would be most welcome to start building a strong Patriots team, perhaps even a Brady-like dynasty of success.
In a conference call with reporters, Robert Kraft said that, in his opinion, the teams that draft well are the ones who are consistently good. He shared that the Patriots haven’t done as well with their draft efforts in recent years, and hopes that the team will have a better approach in future years.
This motivation, of sorts, led to the selection of Mac Jones who has been showing decent numbers.
In 2022, he again publicly shared his concerns that it still might be a few years away for a playoff win, a statement that wouldn’t have been said seriously in the early days.
Again, he might be speaking truths that people don’t want to hear since the team, even with Jones’ help, could have been better in the 2021-2022 season, and a playoff run may not be in the cards for 2022-2023 either if the lineup doesn’t change significantly due to successful draft prospects or quality free agent activity.
An extension of the contract for Jones is encouraging but it might take more for the team to advance well and go up against teams with better free agent prospects. The Patriots also might want to consider the radical, but perhaps necessary step, of excising more so-so players to make more room for free agency space.
It remains to be seen whether the Patriots organization will figure this on their own or perhaps require another year of public nudging from their owner.
Learn more about Robert Kraft’s football record here: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/executives/KrafRo0.htm