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Bill Belichick explains handling 'tough' roster decisions

When Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gives an expansive answer to the press, it's sometimes interpreted as a filibuster of sorts when he'd rather not talk about something else.

But put all of these together, and you realize that from time to time it's just a very smart head coach willing to provide a window into his thought process. This week, it was about the waiver claims process, and how he decides which players to risk subjecting to 31 other teams.

"It's pretty hard to predict what's going to happen when you put players on the wire because in all honesty, you don't know what the other (31) teams are going to do and who they're going to put on the wire," Belichick said, via CSN New England. "Even though you put a player out there that you don't want to lose, if another team happens to put a player out there that may be a team that needs that position and would be better with your player, your player gets claimed. Sometimes we waive players that we didn't think would get claimed and they were, so that's really hard to predict.

"In the end, you've got to make the decision that you feel like is best for your football team, and if you really want that player and you just can't bear to live without them, then you shouldn't be exposing them to the wire. That's the reality of it. We keep an eye on them, but I don't think it's an overriding factor. If you're prepared to waive them, then you've got to be prepared to lose them. That's just the way it is."

He was especially interesting when asked about the most difficult task general managers have this time of year -- deciding whether to roll with established veterans or bet on the younger, cheaper players with higher upside.

"That's the $64,000 question," Belichick said. "That's what it is. It's been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I've ever been in it's a (matter of) a player who's more experienced, more ready to help the team now, versus a player that's not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity?

"That's what it's about, trying to balance now with later. We're going to field a team in November, we're going to field a team next year, we're going to field a team in 2018. Not that we're getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we're going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They're all things that you really have to think about."

While Belichick has not been perfect over the years when it comes to personnel, his track record in veteran cuts has been pretty solid. Rarely do you see a player leave the Patriots and become a star elsewhere during his prime seasons. Likewise, he's had a solid track record of finding foundational role players that started on other clubs, like Rob Ninkovich, Wes Welker and most recently Dion Lewis. Sometimes these decisions seem small or inconsequential at the time, but while some coaches gamble, Belichick has made a Hall of Fame career out of knowing exactly who he wants on his 53-man roster.

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