Arbella Early Edition

Curran: Pats ‘continue to increase the degree of difficulty' on Mac

The Patriots still lack a true No. 1 target for their third-year QB after failing to sign DeAndre Hopkins.

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Was the failure to sign star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins the latest indictment of Bill Belichick the New England Patriots general manager?

According to reports, Hopkins' decision to sign a two-year, $26 million contract with the Tennessee Titans simply came down to the Patriots' unwillingness to offer a deal in the same ballpark. So after pursuing Hopkins for more than a month, New England still lacks a true No. 1 option for third-year quarterback Mac Jones.

Belichick's reluctance to go the extra mile to sign premier talent, especially on offense, continues to befuddle our Tom E. Curran.

"When you're a GM who will spend that money on Nelson Agholor or Jonnu Smith and your specialists, and then you'll say, 'I'm not doing that for a player who is established as DeAndre Hopkins is,' you're an inconsistent, haphazard decision-maker as a personnel man. And I think that's really coming to the fore," Curran said Monday on Arbella Early Edition.

"And now, if Bill is going to decide to nickel and dime on a player who could bring Mac Jones and the rest of the offense to a position that you could say, 'OK, they're competent, they can score 24 (points).' If you pass on doing that, you come back to why? Is it because Bill thinks they have enough? Or why he thinks it's too expensive, or why he wants to see Mac perform in a particular way?"

The Patriots did make a few notable changes to their offense earlier in the offseason, none more crucial than hiring Bill O'Brien to replace Matt Patricia after a dismal 2022. They also signed wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster to replace Jakobi Meyers and tight end Mike Gesicki to replace Jonnu Smith.

Those moves could help Jones and give the offense a slight boost this season, but they leave Curran questioning Belichick's vision. Why isn't the longtime Patriots head coach focused on putting Jones in the best position to succeed?

"If they are building towards something with (Mike) Gesicki and Hunter Henry and Tyquan Thornton, DeVante Parker, all of them except for Parker and Thornton are up at the end of the year, and that includes Kendrick Bourne," Curran said. "So if they're building toward something, it's not like they have this coterie of players that they're moving forward with Mac Jones.

"And it's funny, a 'Caddyshack' quote occurred to me today when I saw that they weren't getting (Hopkins): 'You'll get nothing and like it, Mac Jones!' And that's really, I hate to say it, that's what he kind of has offensively. Who makes you sweat? His most dependable player last year and the year before that was Jakobi Meyers and they switched him up for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who's an X factor. So to me, it just continues to increase the degree of difficulty."

The upcoming season already is set up to be difficult for the Patriots, who face an uphill battle in a tough AFC East and have one of the most grueling schedules in the NFL. With a lack of weapons at his disposal yet again, Jones will have his work cut out for him as he looks to bounce back from a frustrating 2022 campaign.

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