The Patriots face a crossroad after their earliest postseason exit in a decade. Tom Brady gained’t begin the season behind heart (Deflategate suspension excepted) for the primary time since 2002, their large receiver and tight finish corps are a multitude, and several other members of New England’s league-leading protection have left in free company.
Invoice Belichick averted the temptation to spend uncharacteristically to maintain the band collectively. That leaves the Pats with loads of holes left to fill.
New England Patriots (12-4), misplaced within the Wild Card Spherical
Surrounding Brady’s alternative with receiving expertise will probably be a precedence in New England. So will determining what to do with a dominant protection that will probably be with out starters like Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, and Danny Shelton.
Earlier than free company:
- Quarterback: The brightest star in Belichick’s constellation is a free agent. If Brady indicators elsewhere, Belichick will seemingly goal a brand new veteran quarterback to carry issues down whereas he assesses whether or not or not 2019 fourth-round decide Jarrett Stidham might be the crew’s starter of the longer term.
- Security: Devin McCourty is a free agent. Patrick Chung will probably be 33 years outdated earlier than the season begins. New England wants new blood in the midst of its secondary.
- Tight finish: The crew’s first 12 months with out Rob Gronkowski was a catastrophe at tight finish. Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, and Eric Tomlinson mixed for 37 catches. Getting some large receiving assistance is excessive on the Pats’ want checklist, however progress from Mohamed Sanu and 2019 first-round decide N’Keal Harry might enhance that place. There’s no such tight finish potential on the New England roster as at present constructed.
What Pats Pulpit needs most this offseason: All of it begins with Brady. The best quarterback to ever grace the gridiron will probably be a free agent for the primary time in his profession, and the Patriots’ total roster development and wage cap state of affairs hinges on his standing. In case he leaves, New England should determine whether or not or not second-year quarterback Stidham is the actual deal or if an out of doors choice must be introduced in. If Brady returns, nonetheless, the main focus shifts to surrounding him with higher weapons — particularly at tight finish — than those he had in 2019. — Bernd Buchmasser
After free company:
Re-signing McCourty and inking Chargers particular groups standout Adrian Phillips helped fill the crew’s holes at security. That’s simply the tip of the iceberg for a Patriot crew with a number of different questions left to reply, particularly with out Brady.
- Quarterback: Perhaps Jarrett Stidham is the crew’s future franchise quarterback. It appears extra seemingly Belichick will take a swing at a younger passer on this 12 months’s draft.
- Tight finish: See above. New England hasn’t signed anybody to handle their lack of tight finish assist. That want is much more urgent with a brand new quarterback entering into the lineup.
- Linebacker: Collins and Van Noy’s departure leaves two huge holes in the midst of 2019’s top-rated protection. Former Jets LB Brandon Copeland might assist, however Belichick wants somebody able to entering into his circle of belief.
After the draft:
The Patriots had a really Patriots draft. They traded out of the primary spherical, discovered a Division II diamond within the tough, loaded up on defensive gamers, and obtained a kicker. Linebacker Josh Uche (second spherical) and edge rusher Anfernee Jennings (third spherical) ought to assist make up for the lack of Collins and Van Noy. In addition they focused two tight ends, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, within the third spherical.
In some way, although, the Patriots didn’t draft a quarterback. Until they add a veteran, it’s dangerous going into the season with simply Stidham and Brian Hoyer.
Dan Kadar’s draft grade: B