Patriots

Robert Kraft discussed his expectations for Mac Jones and the Patriots heading into a ‘big year’

'We have a lot of talent that hasn’t been tapped into yet in my opinion."

Robert Kraft Patriots
Robert Kraft in Jan. 2022. AP Photo/Doug Murray

Robert Kraft hasn’t shied away from making a few blunt comments about the state of the Patriots in recent days.

Speaking while at the NFL owners meetings, Kraft was asked by Jeff Howe of The Athletic about whether he thinks New England quarterback Mac Jones can make a “second-year jump.”

“Time will tell,” Kraft told Howe.

Kraft explained that Jones’s future is inevitably tied to the performance of his teammates. And the Patriots’ CEO specifically cited some of the team’s high-profile free agent signings from 2021 as important figures in that process.

“Part of it, in fairness, is the chemistry of the people around him,” Kraft pointed out. “I hope that some of the free agents who we brought in who didn’t perform as high as we would have liked last year will [produce] this year because they’ve adjusted to the system. And we’re making changes to take advantage of what they do best. We have a lot of talent that hasn’t been tapped into yet in my opinion.”

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While Kraft didn’t offer specifics, it’s clear he was at least partly referring to wide receiver Nelson Agholor and tight end Jonnu Smith.

Agholor, 28, is heading into the second year of a two-year, $26 million deal. He caught 37 passes for 473 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Smith, 26, is also in the second year of his deal (a four-year contract worth $50 million). He made just 28 catches for 294 yards and one touchdown.

Beyond the team’s class of 2021 free agents, Kraft thinks Jones has a good chance to succeed because of his mentality. After throwing for 22 touchdowns (with 13 interceptions) and 3,801 yards in total, Jones — drafted 15th overall by New England a year ago — will face more pressure to lead in his second season.

“This year will be very telling,” Kraft added of Jones. “To come into something as new as this, as established, I think he got beat up pretty bad, and he kept coming back and getting up and really doing some great stuff. Just the way he handles himself, he took some real beatings and hopped up. He has developed a good relationship with the whole cadre of receivers. I’m very happy with what I’ve seen. But this is a big year, the second year.”

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It’s the second time Kraft has offered some direct thoughts on the Patriots.

On Tuesday, he discussed the Patriots’ draft history and possibility for contention in the upcoming season. Kraft also lamented the lack of recent playoff success.

“I’m a Patriot fan big-time first,” he told reporters, “and more than anything, it bothers me that we haven’t been able to win a playoff game in the last three years.”

The next major date for the NFL offseason will be the draft, which begins on April 28.

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