FOXBORO, Mass. — Perhaps it’s telling Bill Belichick said more kind words about Michael Lombardi, the former New England Patriots executive who has repeatedly critiqued Jamie Collins, than the linebacker himself Wednesday.

Belichick fielded multiple questions during his news conference Wednesday about Lombardi’s comments on Collins, who was traded by the Patriots to the Cleveland Browns on Monday for a conditional draft pick. Lombardi, who worked as an assistant to the Patriots’ coaching staff in 2014 and 2015, said Collins’ “effort” was a problem during his time with the team, saying the linebacker freelanced too much. Lombardi also said Collins has “played poorly” this season and “he had not been playing at a level that’s acceptable to winning and beating good teams.”

“You should ask Mike about whatever Mike said,” Belichick said. “I’m sure everybody had something to say. Talk to them. I don’t know. …

“I expressed my feelings, I think other coaches have expressed their feelings. I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who have an opinion. Talk to them.”

Belichick then was asked if Lombardi’s comments are reflective of those inside the organization.

“Mike’s one of the smartest people I know,” Belichick said. “He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with, and he was a huge asset to me for the two years that he was here. So, Mike’s a smart guy, and he studies football, and he knows it very well. I would say on probably all teams. …

“So, you talk to Mike. I mean …”

It’s at least worth noting the team that acquired Collins is the same one that fired Lombardi as a general manager after just one season two-plus years ago.

Belichick had multiple chances to disagree with Lombardi’s assessment and instead praised the FOX Sports analyst. Of course, Belichick traded Collins midway through the season for a third-round pick, so it’s safe to assume he wasn’t pleased with the linebacker’s play.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images