The Patriots are off to an uncharacteristic 2-4 start and face the Buffalo Bills (5-2) on Sunday. The Bills lead the AFC East, which the Patriots have won 17 times since Belichick took over the team in 2000.
“We’re playing more young players than we’ve played in the past (for a) combination of reasons,” Belichick told Sirius XM NFL Radio.
“We were pretty heavily invested in our team in the past few years. From a salary-cap standpoint, we didn’t have much flexibility at all.”
After Tom Brady’s departure in the offseason, the Patriots signed quarterback Cam Newton to a bargain-basement contract — one year, $1.05 million with just $550,000 guaranteed — but the former league MVP hasn’t produced a winning record.
The Patriots also had eight players opt out of the 2020 season amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, including linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung and running back Brandon Bolden. Their opt outs have left the Patriots with more than $20 million available cap space this season, but that will shrink when they come back on the books for 2021.
“This is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years. We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years. That’s provided more opportunity for younger players. So it’s a combination of all the reasons,” Belichick said.
The Patriots started 2-1 but have lost three straight since Newton tested positive for COVID-19, scoring a combined 28 points.
“We had a good training camp,” Belichick told Sirius XM. “We played pretty well the first three weeks of the season. And then I’d say we regressed over the next two and a half weeks for a combination of reasons. We’re trying to make that ground back up and more. We need to keep going forward. So that’s what we’re doing.”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)