Patriots

Patriots’ Bill Belichick earns Executive of the Year honors

Belichick's rapid rebuild of the Patriots got the team back into the playoffs after Tom Brady's exit in 2020.

Bill Belichick Patriots
Patriots head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick (foreground) and his son Steve. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
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In one offseason, Bill Belichick took the Patriots from an underwhelming 7-9 team in 2020 to a squad that won seven straight games at one point and earned a wild-card berth a year later.

Color the NFL impressed.

The Pro Football Writers Association named Belichick its Executive of the Year after his on-the-fly retooling got New England back to its winning ways two years after the departure of longtime quarterback Tom Brady.

It’s Belichick’s first Executive of the Year award and the first given to the Patriots since former vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli won it in 2003 and 2007.

Former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel won Coach of the Year honors with the Tennessee Titans, his first such award. Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn won Assistant Coach of the Year.

After suffering through a rebuilding year in 2020 following Tom Brady’s exit, New England’s de facto general manager overhauled his team with a ferocious, record-setting free-agent spree and a top-notch draft.

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That haul provided a boost to several positions as edge-rusher Matthew Judon finished with a team-high 12.5 sacks (tied for the most by a Belichick-coached Patriots defender), receiver Kendrick Bourne posted a career-high 800 receiving yards and tied his season-best mark of five receiving touchdowns), and tight end Hunter Henry led New England with nine touchdown catches.

Then, the Patriots added three immediate contributors in the 2021 NFL Draft within the first four rounds in quarterback Mac Jones (first round), defensive lineman Christian Barmore (second round) and running back Rhamondre Stevenson (fourth round). The trio earned New England the top rank among the NFL’s 2021 draft classes according to Pro Football Focus, with Jones and Barmore making the PFWA All-Rookie Team.

The team finished 10-7, one game behind the AFC East-winning Buffalo Bills, before bowing out to the Bills in the AFC wild-card round.

With the Patriots facing yet another crucial offseason, Belichick will be looking for an encore performance to help New England keep pace with the Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and the AFC’s best teams.

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