The New England Patriots are off to their worst start since 2000, sitting at 2-5 in third place in the AFC East, after four straight losses.
Bill Belichick recently noted the salary cap issues being in play when explaining the Patriots' struggles. On his weekly radio spot Monday on WEEI, Belichick insisted that blaming the salary cap isn't an excuse, it's simply reality.
"Look, we paid Cam Newton $1 million. I mean it's obvious we didn't have any money. It's nobody's fault," he said. "That's what we did the last five years. We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in an AFC championship game. This year we had less to work with. It's not an excuse, it's just a fact."
Whether it's an excuse or not, the Patriots' struggles come as the Pats have $28.5 million in dead money, seventh-most in the NFL; New England's defense badly misses the plethora of players who opted out; and the offense isn't nearly as efficient with Newton replacing Tom Brady.
Belichick was asked if, given that the Patriots were selling out for Super Bowls during the Brady era, he expected the cap would catch up at some point.
"The structure of the league is the structure of the league. That isn't going to change," he said.
The Patriots' misses in the draft are also coming back to hurt Belichick's team this year. Most clubs get around salary cap issues relying on good young players on rookie contracts to take on big roles. Belichick's misses in the draft have hindered that ability in New England.
The Pats are forced into playing young players on both sides of the ball this year out of necessity, and the results aren't pretty.
Whether you believe Belichick is making excuses for his team struggling for the first time in 20 years or not, it's likely that reasoning won't last long as New England is well-positioned in 2021 regardless of where the salary cap lands.