Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots went on a spending spree this offseason. While everyone focused on the fresh faces, some of those assets were put toward retaining key players as well. Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. signed a four-year deal to remain with the organization that took a chance on him four years earlier in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"It was super cool [going through the free agency process]," Wise, who will hold a free OL/DL camp in Dallas next month, told CBSSports.com. "It was one of those things that was different. As everything kind of laid out, it was very interesting how the game is ran: how teams talk to you, what they say, how they view you. At the end of the day, I made the decision to come back to Boston and I feel like that was a great decision."
The camaraderie that the Arkansas product forged with his teammates in the locker room and the culture brought on by the coaching staff led him back to Foxborough.
"The family atmosphere that is on the team [is one reason why I came back] for starters. We are very close-knit guys. We definitely have the same mindset, the same goals going into every week, every practice. The culture here is second to none. The environment outside of the stadium is great even though the weather is treacherous, tundra-like. The fans are awesome. They love the Patriots."
While the new contract is exciting, Wise is aware of the challenge ahead and getting the AFC East franchise back to the postseason after being absent for the first time since the 2008 season.
"The season was definitely not what we expected or thought about going into the season. The lack of fans definitely was a big part. Running out to the stadium, big plays happening, first downs, etc. ... you always love to hear the Patriots fans scream and cheer for your team so that was kind of off. On the field, we definitely fell short but that put a fire in us to come back stronger next year."
The Patriots went on a spending spree rarely seen in the NFL this offseason. All in, the team committed over $282 million in total value over four years. Wise offered his thoughts as Belichick made deal after deal in the offseason.
"Always positive going into the season. Always keep our mind on one goal and that is to win. The more that we win, the more that we play. The things that Bill did -- he added more weapons to our team and I am definitely looking forward to building our chemistry with these guys. I am ready to take the field with them starting camp and into the season."
The incoming talent will be welcomed with a strong leadership structure.
"We have great leadership here, hands down. Lawrence Guy, my man Kyle Van Noy, Matt Judon, [Dont'a] Hightower. With all of the new guys coming in, they are going to be under great leadership. The team reflects the character of the leader and we have great leaders around us. They all want to get better. They are all going to improve their games and we can go as far as we want to go."
Although not new, the team does get a familiar face back after he opted out of the 2020 campaign -- the aforementioned Hightower.
"I never like to say what we have been missing but one thing that we did miss was him. He is the type of guy that brings a level of experience to the game. He is the type of guy that brings his knowledge, his playing style. We just missed Dont'a in a sense. We missed him and are definitely happy that he is back with us. I am looking forward to playing aside him."
The 2021 NFL Draft recently concluded and 259 players heard their names called; achieving a dream that likely dated back to childhood. Wise recalled his memory of draft night.
"It was kind of a two-day event. I didn't know where I was going to be on Day Two or Day Three. I was with my immediate family in that moment. It was wonderful. I was looking at my phone the whole time and I had my phone on the charger so it wouldn't die on me with the volume up. I think I connected it to the speaker in case I missed the call," he laughed. "I was excited."
"I just remember all of a sudden I got the call and I didn't know where it was coming from. It was some random area code and I was like, 'What is this?' I answered it and I kind of had an idea. I heard Bill's voice and he said, 'Hello, this is Bill Belichick. We are going to make you a New England Patriot. Are you ready for it?' And I was like 'yeah!' He called like two picks ahead. Once the phone rung, everybody froze and looked at me the whole time. Once I got off the phone, the room erupted. I had to calm myself down to wait for the pick to come. It was an exciting moment."
The defensive lineman offered his advice to incoming draft picks attempting to fit into an NFL locker room.
"You always show that you want to get better and you want to play. No matter where the coach places you, you always strive to get better in that area. You may be a first-round All-American at a certain position and coach says, 'Alright, let's put you at kick returner,' and you say, 'I don't want to do that.' You never want to have a negative attitude coming in. You always want to have a positive attitude and work hard. You always learn from the events around you. Find someone that has a positive outlook or where you want to see yourself and I would follow him and talk to him. Get around people who are what you want to be," he finished.
The Patriots' schedule, as well as the entire NFL slate of games for the 2021 season, will be released Wednesday night. Stay tuned to CBSSports.com for full coverage!