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NFL Front-Office Rankings: Belichick, Patriots Plummeting?

Pro Football Focus' latest rankings have New England's brain trust dipping toward the middle of the pack.

Guess we shouldn't be surprised, in light of him not winning a playoff game since Tom Brady left town. But the legacy and legend of Bill Belichick continues to be dented as the New England Patriots embark on their 2022 season.

In the NFL Draft, critics and even peers - do the Los Angeles Rams ring a bell? - panned the Pats reaching for offensive lineman Cole Strange in the first round and receiver Tyquan Thornton in the second. Seemingly desperate for upgrades at linebacker in the wake of the departures of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, Belichick wholly ignored the position in the draft and instead spent precious assets on positions of strength: quarterback and running back.

For their curious draft and lackluster maneuvering in free agency, the Patriots received the worst offseason grade in the NFL by the analytics-driven site Pro Football Focus. But, then again, New England negotiated two of the league's most team-friendly contracts with Matthew Judon and Kendrick Bourne.

So which is it: Has Belichick lost his fastball? Or has he merely smartly downshifted in a cap-strapped year?

In PFF's latest rankings of NFL front offices, it seems to be ... both. Belichick gets criticism but also is cut some slack, with his essentially one-man think tank coming at No. 13.

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Explains PFF:

We’ll never count out Belichick, but his 2021 spending spree didn’t yield the intended results. Hunter Henry and Matthew Judon played well in their first seasons as Patriots, but Nelson Agholor and Jonnu Smith’s deals already look like busts. Cap-strapped in 2022, Belichick’s big move to supplement his second-year quarterback was … trading for 29-year-old DeVante Parker. New England’s legendary head coach will have a chance to reset next offseason.

Equally painful as the Pats' slide toward middle-of-the-pack mediocrity is the fact that the No. 1-ranked front office resides in Buffalo, where PFF says general manager Brandon Beane's outfit is "the model for every NFL front office."

As for the rest of the AFC East, the New York Jets come in at No. 18 and the Miami Dolphins 20th.