AFC Notes: Bills, Jets, Patriots

     

Bills

Jets

  • ESPN’s Rich Cimini looked more into BYU QB Zach Wilson not being voted a captain by his teammates, instead being named a captain by the head coach to replace an injured teammate. Cimini says sources close to the situation pointed out Wilson was technically competing for the starting job when players would have been voting on captains. He was named to the team’s leadership council. 
  • Former ESPN analyst and NFL player Merrill Hoge has a son who played with Wilson at BYU and lived with him for two years. He tells Cimini: “He loves football, he’s committed to football and he works hard at football. People have said he’s arrogant. I could see how he might come off as arrogant, but it’s never disrespectful. He’s confident. I want a guy with a little attitude leading my huddle.”

Patriots

Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters that they felt the team needed an infusion of talent, which is why there were so aggressive in free agency this offseason. 

“What happened here last year was not something to our liking. We had to make the corrections,” Kraft said. “In all the businesses we’re involved in, we try to take advantage of inefficiencies in the market. We were in a unique cap situation this year and it allowed us to try to [fix] things we missed, to a certain extent, in the draft. So this was our best opportunity.

“In the end, it all comes out to what happens on the field and how well people execute. You really don’t know how good a draft is for at least two years, especially in the environment we’re in now … I’m not quite sure still now what our offseason training and learning abilities will be. I think last year, younger players were really disadvantaged because they didn’t have the time to learn.”

Kraft acknowledged the Patriots’ strategy this offseason was a drastic departure from how they’ve operated in the past. He said it was partially due to opportunity, partially due to necessity that they changed things up. 

“We’ve never been in a position where we have spent the kind of money in free agency that we did this year,” Kraft said via the Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “If there was ever a year to do it, this would be the year because we moved quickly. And instead of having 10-12 teams competing against us for free agents, there were only two or three. I think our personnel department did an outstanding job in setting their priorities. We missed to a certain extent in the draft, so this was our best opportunity.”

However, Kraft realizes that this is an unsustainable approach and stressed the importance of them drafting better in the years to come. He noted he believes he’s seen the team taking a different approach to draft preparations this season. 

“In the end, if you want to have a good, consistent, winning football team, you can’t do it in free agency. You have to do it through the draft. I don’t feel we’ve done the greatest job the last few years and I really hope, and I believe, I’ve seen a different approach this year,” Kraft said, via ESPN.com

Kraft also offered some support for QB Cam Newton by admitting they could have done more to surround him with talent last year. 

In fairness to Cam, I’m not sure he had the proper weapons around him last year,” Kraft said. “I really do believe Cam getting COVID, and what it did to the team, it changed a lot. Now we’ll get a chance to see.

“Players on the team, in the locker room, really love the guy. In the end, I trust Coach Belichick’s ability to build a team, and put the right players in the best position to succeed.

  • Kraft also mentioned that he still has hope for Jarrett Stidham but regardless of who it is they need a long-term solution at quarterback: “One way or another, we have to get that position solidified.” (Phil Perry)
  • Kraft didn’t offer much commitment regarding CB Stephon Gilmore, who reportedly wants a new contract before the season starts: “We’re lucky to have Stephon Gilmore. He’s a tremendous player for us, a great person… He’s just so gifted. He’s under contract with us, and we’ll see what happens.” (Perry)
  • Kraft weighed in on Tom Brady‘s departure last year: “I would have loved for him to retire as a Patriot. Everybody knew that. But in life, things just happen in a way that you have to balance a lot of things. After 20 years, I thought he was entitled to make a decision that was what he thought was best for him and where he was at, and we gave him the ability to do that. It’s like marriages sometimes. No one knows on the outside everything going on, and you try to balance a lot. It is what it is.” (Howe)
  • He added things are going well with the other key half of the Patriots’ dynasty, HC Bill Belichick: “Bill and I are able to work this out in a way that we think is best for the franchise. It’s pretty much been that way — he’s been with us 21 years. He’s maybe the best ever to do it. … I am pretty happy with our working relationship.” (Ryan Hannable)

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