This issue came up elsewhere, but deserves its own thread. Belichick/Pioli are excellent team managers, maybe the best ever, because they think like businessmen. It's not a coincidence that Belichick has an economics degree, in studying how to best deploy limited resources to achieve maximum gain. Let me give you a real world example. Some people use their money to invest in assets like real estate, securities, businesses, and early ventures, because with intelligence and hard work, you can make these assets grow and have more value than you started with. Other people use their money to buy non-assets such as flashy cars, boats, entertainment, and clothes, that immediately begin depreciating in value the moment you buy them. Over time, the first group ends up with much money, while the second group has no net worth, as well as a bunch of useless things. How does this relate to the NFL? The same concept applies regarding cap-dollar allocation and overall team talent level. The Patriots put an emphasis on drafting well, signing young players, bargain hunting for under-valued veterans, and putting in a lot of work into coaching and practicing. Over time, this creates a team of underpaid players who are much better than their salaries, and gives the Pats the highest overall talent level in the league. Most other teams like to chase big name players in free agency who are usually older, so that his skills diminish while his pay remains at a high level. With all teams operating under the same cap, over time the good businessmen like Belichick/Pioli become wealthy with talent, while the poor businessmen have so much money tied to bad invesments that much of their team is garbage, with little growing assets. -- Also, I wanted to throw in a pseudo-related point here that doesn't really need its own thread. When people like me criticize our players or a specific position like linebackers, I am not attacking Belichick/Pioli. Sometimes in a market, there just isn't a good asset available at a good price, so you just try to make as many calculated, intelligent guesses as you can out of what is available. Sometimes it takes MORE discipline not to splurge for a perceived need, and just wait things out. So...even though I think Monty Beisel is garbage and that our linebackers have serious depth issues, this is merely a reflection of the linebacker market over the past few years, and does not change my opinion of Belichick/Pioli as talent evaluators, dollar allocators, or team builders. .