The patriots’ free agency can be explained by 3 things:

Go ahead. Ask the question.

What the hell are the patriots doing?

Since the NFL free agency kicked off last week, frustration over the inactivity of the Pats has grown daily, fueled by the memory of last year’s record spending and the arms race unfolding across the AFC. As competitors stock up on weapons, it feels like the Pats are loading up the hand-me-down Nerf guns.

Here’s what’s happening in Foxboro, according to sources: Bill Belichick is negotiating directly with the team’s key targets. Senior consultant Eliot Wolf, an NFL front-office veteran of more than 20 years, mans the phones for other outside toll-free agents. New player staff director Matt Groh has taken on some of the burden while running a Pro Day tour, having already sealed a few re-enlists.

As inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo said last month, the Pats are “trying to get faster and more explosive and put more playmakers on the field.” That is, on their terms.

According to an agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Patriots have significantly increased their offer for an elite offensive client who signed a similar contract elsewhere but was not attracted by the money. This account reveals a willingness to spend money and cap space even while contradicting several other negotiations where the Pats have refused to sacrifice themselves for mid-level free agents.

“They have a cheap problem,” said another player’s agent.

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