Last week, Bill Belichick lost his most trusted confidant to the Houston Texans. Luckily for the New England Patriots, their longtime head coach just convinced another valuable member of the organization to abandon his career plans in a single phone call.
But no matter what job title he holds, Dave Ziegler faces a daunting task in helping Belichick fix a roster that features more holes than the NFL’s Deflategate investigation.
New England has lost several key coaches, scouts and front-office executives in recent years
By becoming the most dominant dynasty in NFL history, the Patriots put themselves in a position to have key personnel poached away by other teams.
Over the years, a number of coaches, scouts, and front-office executives have capitalized on their success in New England to land better jobs elsewhere.
After working for the Patriots for six seasons, Thomas Dimitroff got hired by the Atlanta Falcons to be their new general manager. But after serving in that role since 2008, he got fired in October 2020.
Bob Quinn also left Belichick behind to run his own team. However, like Dimitroff, he also failed to build a Super Bowl-winning squad.
Of course, former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia played a big role in the Detroit Lions failing to become a playoff team. Ultimately, both men got fired back in November.
And just last week, another longtime member of the Patriots departed for greener pastures. The Texans finally succeeded in swiping Nick Caserio away from Belichick’s clutches. Houston signed the 45-year-old to a six-year, $30 million contract to become the team’s new GM.
But after watching a trusted colleague leave for a hated rival, Belichick made sure to limit his losses by making a franchise-altering phone call on Sunday.
Bill Belichick just convinced a critical Patriots employee to abandon his career plans in a single phone call
Having already lost his top aide, Bill Belichick faced the possibility of having another valuable member of his inner circle leave for the promotion of a lifetime.
According to Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal, Dave Ziegler interviewed with the Denver Broncos last week about their GM vacancy. He reportedly impressed the Broncos during his interview and seemed to have at least one foot out the door.
But on Sunday, Belichick put a swift end to that idea by making a single phone call to the longtime Patriots employee. As a result of the conversation, he convinced the team’s assistant director of player personnel to abandon his career plans.
Later that afternoon, Ian Rapoport reported via Twitter that Ziegler withdrew his name from the Broncos GM search. Belichick and the Patriots reportedly “committed to Ziegler’s future” and he returned the favor by committing to staying in New England.
In doing so, Ziegler passed up the opportunity to run his own team in order to continue working with the future Hall of Famer. For Belichick, retaining Ziegler gives him a much-needed front-office leader who draws respect for his player evaluation and scouting skills. The Patriots at least secured a major component of their future by convincing their longtime employee to spurn the Broncos in order to move up the ladder in New England.
Unfortunately for Caserio’s replacement, he now has the responsibility of rebuilding one of the worst rosters in the NFL.
Dave Ziegler faces a daunting task to fix a flawed roster
Whether he officially holds the GM title or not, Dave Ziegler will play a major role in determining the future of the Patriots as the team enters the most critical offseason in franchise history.
Finding a long-term answer at quarterback remains priority No. 1. Will the Patriots utilize the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft to select a signal-caller? Or will Bill Belichick refuse to use a high pick on the most important position in sports?
Plus, New England’s scary list of needs goes well beyond finding a franchise quarterback.
Belichick and Ziegler desperately need to upgrade the wide receiver and tight end positions. Even though Cam Newton did not live up to expectations, he had a laughably bad cast of “weapons” headlined by disappointing first-round pick N’Keal Harry.
The offensive line may need some reinforcements, too. Star left guard Joe Thuney should command a record-setting contract in free agency. David Andrews also has a chance to earn a hefty raise on the open market. Plus, Marcus Cannon’s future remains murky after he opted-out of the 2020 season.
Oh, and let’s not forget that the Patriots desperately need better talent at defensive line and linebacker. And that’s assuming they re-sign Lawrence Guy and get Dont’a Hightower back.
Overall, Dave Ziegler faces an arduous task in fixing a slow, aging roster devoid of young, proven players.
But his career could have done in an different direction if he didn’t answer a phone call from Bill Belichick on Sunday.