INDIANAPOLIS – Bill Belichick didn’t provide much insight Thursday about his team’s plans this offseason, either in free agency or the draft. But he talked about the benefits of meeting hundreds of draft prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine and spoke highly of Michael Lombardi, who joined the Patriots last week after being fired as Browns general manager and was announced Thursday as an “assistant to the coaching staff.”
Lombardi is in Indianapolis this week along with all of the Patriots’ key front office and coaching personnel. He and Belichick date back over 20 years when both worked for the Browns. Lombardi has served as a top personnel executive with the Raiders and Eagles in an NFL career that began in 1984.
“Mike’s got a lot of experience,” Belichick said. “He’s done a lot of things in his career in the NFL, and I’m sure he’ll be doing many of those things for us.”
As for team matters, Belichick offered little insight during his 9-minute press conference. When asked about the Patriots’ top two free agents – cornerback Aqib Talib and receiver Julian Edelman – and whether re-signing them is a priority, Belichick said, “I talked about that at the end of the season about the process that that involved, and I’d say that we’re in that process.”
When asked if having continuity among the offensive personnel is important this year given how much change the Patriots underwent last year, he responded, “I don’t know.”
And Belichick warned that he’s not ready to make any comments about this year’s draft class. He began looking at prospects three weeks ago at the Senior Bowl and is still getting to know them, via face-to-face interviews, film study and medical checks at the Combine. The Patriots’ team doctor, Dr. Thomas Gill, is also in Indianapolis.
“From a medical standpoint it’s probably the biggest thing that we get out of this,” Belichick said. “Having some interaction with some players personally is good, certainly good for me, since I’ve had almost zero through the course of the year given the demands of our season.”
Belichick also said the coaching staff “is pretty well set right now.” The Patriots lost offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, linebackers coach Pepper Johnson and tight ends coach George Godsey, and replaced them with Dave DeGuglielmo (OL) and Brendan Daly (defensive assistant). The Patriots do not have anyone listed as a tight ends coach, although it is possible that offensive assistant Brian Daboll could handle that role.
“We’ll go forward with it with the people that we have and just see how that comes together,” Belichick said.