New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has promised more changes to the team’s roster heading into next season. The organization, previously a model of consistency in the NFL, has undergone a facelift since the departures of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, with the pair going on to win the Super Bowl for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year.
Gronkowski signed a deal at wrestling promotion WWE but his tenure did not last long, with Brady getting his old running mate to join him in Florida.
The Pats did not get better for letting Brady leave and actually got a whole lot worse. Where predictions are concerned, the Bucs are 7/1 to repeat last season’s feat while the Pats are a distant 30/1.
Their passing attack was nothing short of abysmal last term, one of the key reasons they posted a losing season for the first time since 2000, going 7-9 and missing the playoffs. The decision to replace Brady with a former MVP in Cam Newton hasn’t come close to working out but the blame for the team’s passing struggles should not fall squarely on his shoulders. Newton was signed late and hardly got a chance to really work out and develop a relationship with his new teammates due to COVID-19. The quarterback tested positive for the virus after the Pats’ first three games and was never quite the same after returning.
Newton did not have that great of a receiving cast either as veteran wide receiver Julian Edleman played just six games. The tight-ends weren’t a threat either.
It’s why New England has prioritized the passing department during free agency, signing a pair of dependable tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. They are rumored to be in for wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. First-round draft pick Mac Jones is also an option should Newton fail to impress at QB.
Newton is reported to have suffered a bone bruise in his throwing hand last week and he may very well miss organized team activities and the mandatory minicamp. The QB might not be available for training camp until late next month. On the bright side, he’s already had a few weeks of work with his teammates and doesn’t really need to push for a speedy return, with just four OTAs and three minicamps left.
The expected absence could be great for Jones and Jarrett Stidham. The latter, though, was the better of the two on the day of Newton’s injury so it will be interesting to see how the dynamics play out.
Also worth noting is the fact that running back Sony Michel has been absent from voluntary workouts. The player appears to have had the first fully healthy offseason of his playing career so it was expected that he would be involved as there’s competition in the form of Damien Harris and fourth-round pick Rhamondre Stevenson.
In any case, the Pats’ offense looks much better than it did before the start of last term and they will also be ringing changes outside of the roster. The team lost Nick Caserio this year; he’s left their front office to become General Manager of the Houston Texans. The loss could be considered a huge blow for New England in spite of their new-look offense.
“I’d say we’re set up a little bit differently than we were when Nick was here,” Belichick said, per WEEI. “We could talk about that for hours, but we’re not going to. There are a number of different elements and things that are intertwined here and so forth. We have an opportunity to kind of reorganize some things, and so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Caseiro did just about everything for the Pats barring playing and coaching. He was involved in the draft, trades, and negotiations over contracts.
Meanwhile, Matt Patricia has returned to the team on the back of his spell in charge of the Detroit Lions (that did not go well). Patricia functioned as a defensive coordinator for the team prior to his leaving for Detroit.
“Matt (Patricia) wasn’t here last year. He is now,” Belichick added. “He’s an important part of that.
“Dave (Ziegler), Eliot (Wolf), Matt Groh, Steve (Cargile), so forth, I mean, there’d be a number of things that we’ll modify for one reason or another and if we have to adjust them at a later point in time or further, we’ll do that. We’ll start with, which we have already, start doing things a certain way and see how it goes.”
The Patriots will have eyes on them next season even after going through the embarrassment of watching the quarterback they discarded revive the Bucs and take them all the way. Will there be a bounce back from the end of the Brady era? Only time will tell. But rest assured that management will do everything they can to return to the heights they enjoyed with Brady running things.