Remember all the way back to the first week of March? The Indianapolis Colts were entering the free agency cycle with their quarterback of the foreseeable future already locked down, a pseudo-contender on the verge of plundering the free agent market to fill holes.
Not only did they have the world at their feet, but they had the cap space to absorb it.
We’ve known it since last summer, but this free agency felt like a potential deluge for Indianapolis..and the New England Patriots, the two NFL teams wise enough to position a metric ton of cap space for the odd year after the rest of the league was ravaged by a global pandemic, shrinking the available room for everyone.
Perhaps we were too hasty in speculating about free agent additions ad nauseam for the past 12 months.
Instead of spending anything at all, the Colts have largely rested on their laurels on the verge of “completing” the Carson Wentz deal officially.
The Patriots? They’ve purchased everything under the sun.
Is it fair for us to be jealous of the work they’ve done? Does it even make sense to be? Is New England really in an enviable position?
Should Colts fans be jealous of the Patriots’ free agency frenzy?
In short, it’s fair for Colts fans to be frustrated by their team’s inaction, whether real or perceived.
The reality, though? The New England Patriots needed to spend gobs of money this offseason because they were largely bereft of talent otherwise. Thanks to a series of top-of-the-draft failures, the Pats needed to replace both of the tight ends they selected in 2020 to run two-TE sets (and, to be fair, they did with aplomb), as well as acquire wideout help and pass rush talent. Matthew Judon will do the latter; Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor might fit in, but probably won’t move the needle much.
And Bill Belichick still faces uncertainty at the quarterback position, both in the long- and short-term, too.
Of course, it’s not so much about what New England splurged on, but about what Indianapolis didn’t budge for. Bud Dupree and Denico Autry both reside on the same team within the division, now. That was supposed to be our vision. JJ Watt collected a large fee to go toil for the Arizona Cardinals — we pooh pooh’d it at the time, but what about now, when none of the legal tampering has gone our way?
The failure to address the pass rush thus far, and the internal weakening that comes from losing Autry, hurts.
When the dust settles, however, it’ll be quite clear that the Patriots splashed the type of cash that Indianapolis kept in reserve because…well, they needed to fill a laundry list of holes to even approach the Colts’ level.
Besides, what’s the only market that hasn’t moved one iota? Wide receiver, the main spot (other than quarterback) that Indy planned to address prior to the draft.
Instead of a blinding avalanche of signings, the Colts used their cap space to absorb a disgruntled QB with star potential, will probably earmark a good portion of the bills for Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard, and remain in the mix for any number of game-changing wideouts.
It’s not flashy, but flash wasn’t necessary.