What rebuild? Jerod Mayo says Patriots are prepared to spend this offseason

New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo spoke candidly about the team's strategy for free agency spending in the coming months.

New England Patriots Introduce Jerod Mayo as Head Coach
New England Patriots Introduce Jerod Mayo as Head Coach / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Since his recent hiring — and even long before — New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo has insisted that he's not trying to be Bill Belichick. Mayo has frequently been compared to his old coach, and even earned the nickname "Jerod Belichick" by his teammates.

Mayo has endeavored to draw key distinctions between himself and his predecessor, especially as the Patriots enter an uncertain post-Belichick era for the first time in 24 years. The team's calculated coaching succession plan conveys that this decision was not taken lightly, nor was Mayo chosen on a whim. As a player and a coach, Mayo has always been a faithful disciple of the Belichick Way, but he's also making it increasingly clear that he plans on doing some things differently in New England.

It seems that free agency spending, a hot-button issue among Patriots fans, is one of the things that will see a new approach under Mayo's head coaching tenure. Mayo joined WEEI's The Greg Hill Show on Monday to discuss the Patriots' future and clarify his approach to recruiting talent in free agency.

Patriots HC Jerod Mayo: New England is "bringing in talent 1000%"

Cash expenditure has been one of the most criticized aspects of Belichick's roster management during his final years in New England. The Patriots were 31st in cash spending during the 2023 offseason, and they cumulatively ranked 27th over the past three years.

During the interview, Mayo was asked if owner Robert Kraft would provide him with enough financial freedom to acquire talent in the upcoming free agency period.

"We're bringing in talent, 1000 percent," Mayo replied emphatically. "Have a lot of cap space — and cash! Ready to burn some cash."

One of the show's hosts suggested a free agency target, adding that "Tee Higgins would be nice!" Mayo neither confirmed nor denied, instead laughing along lightheartedly.

Mayo's candidness is a departure from Belichick's relative secrecy around the team's future plans or decision-making process. Despite the criticisms, Belichick wasn't stingy with the salary cap — he spent big when he had the necessary cap space and when the right player was available. For example, he jumped at the chance to sign cornerback Stephon Gilmore during the free agency period in 2017. Gilmore made a game-clinching interception in Super Bowl 53 and earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2019.

Belichick also gave tight end Rob Gronkowski a new deal while he still had two years remaining on his rookie contract. The six-year extension made Gronkowski the highest-paid tight end just two years into his NFL career, but benefitted the Patriots long-term. The lengthy contract averaged out to give the Patriots immense value, locking up an all-time great tight end for nearly a decade.

Belichick wasn't adverse to free agency spending either. For example, he went on a nine-day, $159.6 million spending frenzy during the 2021 offseason. Belichick's ability to evaluate talent and assess a player's financial value has been lauded by general managers and coaches across the league.

Perhaps Belichick made the most of his economics degree from Wesleyan University after all.

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