Bill Belichick: Lack of cap space this year not an “excuse”

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DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 23: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks on the field prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 23, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn’t make excuses. He just gives explanations.

His explanation for the team’s current struggles emerged in a recent interview with former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Belichick said that, this year, the Patriots aren’t doing well because they aren’t in great cap shape.

Appearing Monday on WEEI in Boston, Belichick said that his explanation isn’t an excuse. Even if it is.

“We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth, and played in an AFC Championship Game,” Belichick said. “This year we have less to work with. It’s not an excuse. It’s just the facts.”

Belichick bristled at the notion that he was making excuses.

“I didn’t say it as an excuse,” Belichick said, via “I never said that Look, we paid Cam Newton a million dollars [on July 8]. It’s obvious we didn’t have any money. It’s nobody’s fault. That’s what we did the last five years. . . . It was an honest answer to an honest question. No more, no less than that. I’m sure you can read a lot into it if you want to. That wasn’t the intent.”

The Patriots are expected to have plenty of cap space in 2021. They could have found a way to borrow against it this year, if they wanted to.

So, yes, it feels like an excuse. An excuse for less than stellar drafting. An excuse for perhaps no longer being able to get players to take less to play in New England. An excuse for his own mistakes, like calling for an onside kick on Sunday against the Bills. An excuse for Tom Brady not being there.

Belichick set the standard over the past 20 years in all sorts and shapes and sizes of cap situations. He always found a way to be competitive. This year, his first without Brady, the team is 2-5.

Given that his alternative would be to attribute past success to Brady, Belichick understandably is blaming this year’s struggles on the perceived (and perhaps deliberate) lack of cap space.

Regardless, it won’t be an excuse next year. The Patriots are positioned to be well under the cap, even if it’s only $175 million. So if they stink next year, Belichick will need another explanation/excuse/whatever.

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