Patriots Pulse Blog: Familiarity and Acquiring Players Go Hand and Hand With Bill Belichick

When it comes to acquiring players, Bill Belichick prefers to sign draft players or sign free agents from schools where he has or had a relationship with the head coach.

Want proof? Look at the Patriots acquisitions this week. New England traded for cornerback Jason McCourty who played at Rutgers for Greg Schiano. Schiano and Belichick are good friends. They are so close in fact that Schiano almost joined the Patriots staff last month. Belichick trusts Schiano and the way he teaches the game. That is why the Patriots have drafted so many players from Rutgers through the years.

The Patriots signed free agent defensive end Adrian Clayborn and free agent offensive tackle Matt Tobin on Friday. Both played at Iowa for Kirk Ferentz. Ferentz and Belichick go way back. Ferentz was Belichick’s offensive line coach when Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in the early nineties. Belichick trusts Ferentz and the way he and his staff coach their players. He knows Iowa players are tough, smart and are students of the game. All NFL teams value those traits, especially the Patriots.

LSU is another school the Patriots have drafted heavily from through the years. From Kevin Faulk (Belichick didn’t draft him) to defensive end Marquise Hill, to cornerback Randall Gay to defensive end Jarvis Green, the Patriots have always looked to the Bayou for talented players who fit the Patriot Way. Belichick has also signed free agents who played at LSU. Brendan LaFell and the recently signed Jeremy Hill come to mind.

Belichick leans heavily on the recommendations of coaches. That is why he has formed strong relationships with coaches such Chip Kelly, Urban Meyer, Schiano and others. He also heavily leans on coaches that have worked for him in the past like Ferentz and Nick Saban.

Patriots fans and media alike have mocked Belichick through the years for drafting or signing players from specific schools. There is a reason that. He and his staff know what they want in a player and the coaches at those schools best prepare their players to play for an organization like the Patriots.

Relationships are everything in football. Tapping into those relationships to acquire players might be considered “old school” by today’s standards but it is still effective.