Patriots owner Robert Kraft touched on a variety of issues during Wednesday’s Q&A session with the media members, his first since the end of the 2020 season. Among the biggest topics discussed was the Patriots’ quarterback situation—which Kraft called an area that the team still must solidify—despite also offering praise for incumbent starter Cam Newton.
“In fairness to Cam, I’m not sure he had the proper weapons around him last year,” Kraft said, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “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.”
Newton re-signed with New England on a one-year deal this month after starting 15 games for the team last season. He completed 65.8% of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 592 yards and 12 scores.
Kraft also addressed his uncharacteristic shopping spree in free agency this offseason, during which he spent a league-record $165 million in guaranteed money. Kraft said his preference is to build a team through the draft, but cited his team’s poor performance in recent drafts—as well as the NFL’s reduced salary caps handcuffing other teams—as factors that led to his unprecedented spending.
“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.”
The Patriots will pick 15th in the upcoming draft, their highest pick since 2008. That year, the team took linebacker Jerod Mayo with the 10th pick.
Kraft also said he did not regret letting Tom Brady leave via free agency, rather than retaining him using the franchise tag. Brady went on to lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title, winning the title game’s MVP honors in the process.
“After 20 years, I’ll make this commitment to any player in the future. Anyone who spends 20 years with us, and helps us go to win six Super Bowls, we’re not going to keep; look, we could have contract-wise, kept him in our camp,” Kraft said. “But it’s not the right thing.”