The New England Patriots have long been considered the NFL’s model franchise when it comes to free agency and the NFL Draft. Bill Belichick hoards draft picks, constantly replenishes his offensive line in order to best protect the ageing Tom Brady, and, in general, seems to have a unique knack for identifying and renewing underutilized talent.
It’s no secret, then, that other franchises around the league regularly try to mimic what Belichick and the Patriots do in the offseason. But in a column on ESPN.com over the weekend, Mike Reiss revealed that New England’s influence over the rest of the league may somehow be even greater than previously imagined.
According to Reiss, after news leaked that the Patriots had scheduled a workout with an unnamed free agent, that player — who previously had very little interest around the league — wound up getting calls from four other teams. Only because he was linked to the Pats!
One agent whose free-agent client recently had a workout with the Patriots shared the following: When word of the player’s visit to New England had become public, four teams called that day to express some level of interest. Up to that point, interest in the player around the league had been dormant.
Perhaps this isn’t especially surprising, considering how successful the Pats have been for so long. It’s likely that teams are even more interested in whichever college prospects the Patriots have their eyes on, too.
But more than anything else, you can’t help but wonder if Belichick — being the schemer that he is — is already using this influence to his advantage, manipulating rival teams into signing bad players just by drumming up supposed interest.