Rebuilding The Patriots For 2021 And Beyond

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Jeff Howe gives his thoughts - the Athletic

My comments:
I'll add Fla. QB Kyle Trask to his list of QBs to draft. 6'5", 240. Drop back pocket presence++ with decent mobility. 2020 stats - 70% completion rate, 4125 yds, 11.6 AY/A, 43 TDs and only 5 ints. BB could trade back to around 20-25 and still get Trask while adding a late 2nd or early 3rd to boot.
WRs - Marvin Jones &/or Corey Davis would be perfect, thank you.
TE - Hunter Henry for sure. He'd help immensely.
Adding a TE & 2 WRs would do wonders for the offense.
LB - Lavonte David has been productive his entire career plus he can cover a back or a TE.
Of our own FAs, I'm not certain JMac will be back, at least not as a CB; maybe at S. I'd like to keep Byrd and James White.




By Jeff Howe Dec 28, 2020
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The best thing about 2020? There’s at least a sliver of hope it’ll turn to 2021.
That’s where the Patriots have set their focus, as the regular season will expire in a week and they can turn their attention toward the next phase of their rebuild.
So let’s do the same and make 10 bold predictions for the upcoming year. Due to the likelihood that many of these predictions won’t be worth the paper they’re printed on, this message will soon self-destruct. No receipts, please.

1. The Patriots will trade up to draft a quarterback and keep* Cam Newton​

Bill Belichick has publicly acknowledged the advantages of building a roster around a quarterback on a rookie contract, and there are four franchise-caliber talents who are projected top-10 picks.
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will likely be the No. 1 pick — too rich for the Patriots — and BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance will be gone shortly thereafter. It’ll most likely cost the Patriots at least a pair of first-round picks to get into range to select one of them.
That’s a price worth paying if there’s conviction behind their evaluation of the right quarterback, and the pace of their rebuild depends on it.
There’d be some value in keeping Newton on a short-money contract, especially if the Patriots boost the talent at tight end and wide receiver. If the Patriots trade up to draft a quarterback, they’re not going to want to also spend a significant chunk of cap space on a veteran, so keeping Newton would make some sense.
He’s good for the locker room and should be a solid mentor for a rookie. If the draft pick isn’t ready to start early in the season, Newton would be a serviceable placeholder.
(*I changed my mind three times while writing this section, could do so 10 more times depending how Jarrett Stidham is involved in the final two games and might do so hundreds more times prior to free agency.)

2. The Patriots will extend Stephon Gilmore’s contract and place a second-round tender on J.C. Jackson​

Gilmore is still playing at an extremely high level, but he’ll only earn $7.5 million in cash next season because the Patriots have accelerated future earnings to keep him competitively compensated over the past two seasons.
While Gilmore’s name has come up in trade conversations, the Patriots didn’t come close to dealing him because there was never an acceptable offer on the table, according to a source. The presumption is the Patriots wouldn’t move him for less than a first-round pick. Would their price actually come down in the next three months, and how much will the torn quad impact his fate?
Keeping Gilmore would therefore make the most sense. A two-year, $28.5 million extension would be fair value, rolling that into the balance of his current contract for a three-year, $36 million pact.
Jackson is a restricted free agent, and the Patriots would like to accumulate more picks, particularly under the premise that they’re willing to trade into the top 10 for a quarterback. The Patriots’ two options with Jackson would be to give him a first- or second-round tender, but it’s historically rare for an opposing team to sign away a restricted free agent at the cost of a first-round pick.
Therefore, use a second-round tender, and entice a team to sign Jackson to an offer sheet. That’s an affordable price for a corner with a budding reputation around the league, and the Patriots could use the second-round asset while replacing Jackson with Joejuan Williams or Myles Bryant. They could also re-sign Jason McCourty.

3. The Patriots’ two biggest splashes in free agency will be Hunter Henry and Lavonte David​

Henry will be the top tight end on the market, so he’ll require a contract worth an average annual value of at least $10 million. But Henry also probably got the memo this month that Belichick is infatuated with him.
The Patriots desperately need more production at tight end. Rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene could still grow into solid pieces, but how long will it take? The Patriots can’t go a third consecutive year devoid of statistical output from the position, and Henry would be the answer.
David, a linebacker who turns 31 in January, has flown under the radar in Tampa but has been reliable and productive on all three downs throughout his career. If the Patriots can get him for $8-9 million annually, they can stick him in the middle of their defense with Dont’a Hightower and let Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings flourish alongside them.
The front seven would enjoy an immediate upgrade with David on the inside.

4. Josh Uche will become the Patriots’ top pass rusher​

This is an easy one.
Uche has made an impact with his increased role over the past month, and his trajectory should have a sharp ascension with a normal offseason. Chase Winovich has had a very good season as the Patriots’ best pass rusher, but Uche’s raw talent will shine once the Patriots remove his training wheels.

5. The Patriots will focus on the second tier of free-agent wide receivers​

It would be a surprise if the Patriots completely abandoned their philosophy on paying receivers just because they’ve got $60 million in projected cap space, the fourth-most in the NFL.
That’s why $14-18 million annually doesn’t add up for JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay or Will Fuller. Rather, it’d make more sense to try to snare a pair of the next tier that includes Curtis Samuel, Marvin Jones, Sammy Watkins and Corey Davis.
If the Patriots can land two of them, somehow land one of the plethora of talented wideouts in the draft and combine them with Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, the group would look much better.

6. The Patriots will re-sign Joe Thuney​

The Pats used the $14.8 million franchise tag on Thuney despite being tight against the cap because they hoped to extend him to a long-term contract. The two sides were never close to an extension before the deadline, nor were the Patriots close to trading him due to an absence of acceptable offers. They also weren’t going to just flip him to the highest bidder due to his value to the team, which played out tenfold as he hopped between left guard and center early in the season.
It’d be surprising if they didn’t continue to offer him a competitive contract. There are only 10 teams with at least $30 million in projected cap room, and it’s tough to envision most of them using a major chunk of it on an interior lineman. Maybe Washington or the Bengals makes a huge push, but Thuney would then have to decide between the fattest payday and an environment he knows best and is closer to achieving postseason success.
It’s unconventional for teams to devote so much cap space to guard, as Shaq Mason will carry a $9.775 million cap hit, but the Patriots can pull it off while their tackles are on rookie contracts.

1/2​

 
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2/2

7. Mike Onwenu will be the right tackle of the future​

While Onwenu could be considered in the mix to replace Thuney if they were to lose him, consider the challenges the Patriots have faced at right tackle in recent years. Even when Marcus Cannon was still starting, they struggled to find depth when Jared Veldheer surprisingly quit and thought they drafted Cannon’s replacement with Yodny Cajuste in the third round but he hasn’t come close to seeing the field due to injuries.
And then came Onwenu, a sixth-round guard from Michigan who turned into a godsend at tackle when Jermaine Eluemunor had injury issues. It’s much more difficult to find a quality tackle than guard, so stick with what’s worked. Onwenu has three clean sheets (no sacks, QB hits, pressures or blocking penalties) at right tackle.
Cannon, who opted out this season, regressed the previous two seasons and should be viewed as an unknown if he decides to return. The Patriots can save $7 million against the cap by parting ways and sticking with Onwenu.

8. N’Keal Harry will catch 50 passes​

Harry, who turned 23 two weeks ago, has looked better of late, perhaps a sign that he’s turning a corner. It wouldn’t be the first time such a young player figured it out and launched their career after a prolonged struggle.
Even with his inconsistencies — of which there have been many — Harry should be capable of catching at least three passes per game under the premise of good health. And from there, who knows? Harry’s harshest critics should even be able to admit he looks like a better receiver when he’s playing with confidence.
The formula for such a turnaround has to include better health plus prolonged consistency to equal an ascending player.

9. Free-agent forecast​

Aside from the free agents who were already mentioned, here’s a prediction on what will happen with the next tier.
They’ll keep:
  • David Andrews
  • Adam Butler
  • Lawrence Guy
  • Jason McCourty
  • Cody Davis
  • Justin Bethel
They’ll lose:
  • James White
  • Damiere Byrd
  • Jermaine Eluemunor
  • Deatrich Wise
  • John Simon
  • Terrence Brooks.
It’s tough to predict a change of scenery for White, an organizational staple who could have been the Super Bowl LI MVP. He turns 29 in February, is on pace to play his lowest percentage of snaps since 2016 and has had uncharacteristic struggles in pass protection. It’s possible the Patriots envision a turnaround next season with improved quarterback play, though.

10. Jerod Mayo will be viewed as a head coaching candidate by the end of 2021​

Mayo might not necessarily be hired as a head coach for the 2022 season, but he’ll be on the league’s radar a year from now.
Once Mayo gets his first interview, word will spread that he is an incredibly smart guy with natural leadership traits and a personality that will deserve the respect of a locker room.
 

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2/2

7. Mike Onwenu will be the right tackle of the future​

While Onwenu could be considered in the mix to replace Thuney if they were to lose him, consider the challenges the Patriots have faced at right tackle in recent years. Even when Marcus Cannon was still starting, they struggled to find depth when Jared Veldheer surprisingly quit and thought they drafted Cannon’s replacement with Yodny Cajuste in the third round but he hasn’t come close to seeing the field due to injuries.
And then came Onwenu, a sixth-round guard from Michigan who turned into a godsend at tackle when Jermaine Eluemunor had injury issues. It’s much more difficult to find a quality tackle than guard, so stick with what’s worked. Onwenu has three clean sheets (no sacks, QB hits, pressures or blocking penalties) at right tackle.
Cannon, who opted out this season, regressed the previous two seasons and should be viewed as an unknown if he decides to return. The Patriots can save $7 million against the cap by parting ways and sticking with Onwenu.

8. N’Keal Harry will catch 50 passes​

Harry, who turned 23 two weeks ago, has looked better of late, perhaps a sign that he’s turning a corner. It wouldn’t be the first time such a young player figured it out and launched their career after a prolonged struggle.
Even with his inconsistencies — of which there have been many — Harry should be capable of catching at least three passes per game under the premise of good health. And from there, who knows? Harry’s harshest critics should even be able to admit he looks like a better receiver when he’s playing with confidence.
The formula for such a turnaround has to include better health plus prolonged consistency to equal an ascending player.

9. Free-agent forecast​

Aside from the free agents who were already mentioned, here’s a prediction on what will happen with the next tier.
They’ll keep:
  • David Andrews
  • Adam Butler
  • Lawrence Guy
  • Jason McCourty
  • Cody Davis
  • Justin Bethel
They’ll lose:
  • James White
  • Damiere Byrd
  • Jermaine Eluemunor
  • Deatrich Wise
  • John Simon
  • Terrence Brooks.
It’s tough to predict a change of scenery for White, an organizational staple who could have been the Super Bowl LI MVP. He turns 29 in February, is on pace to play his lowest percentage of snaps since 2016 and has had uncharacteristic struggles in pass protection. It’s possible the Patriots envision a turnaround next season with improved quarterback play, though.

10. Jerod Mayo will be viewed as a head coaching candidate by the end of 2021​

Mayo might not necessarily be hired as a head coach for the 2022 season, but he’ll be on the league’s radar a year from now.
Once Mayo gets his first interview, word will spread that he is an incredibly smart guy with natural leadership traits and a personality that will deserve the respect of a locker room.
Wow...not sure about some of these, it would be nice though. I am curious to see what money is going to be paid to some of the free agents. having to pay andrews and Thuney is going to be a bundle.
 

HSanders

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ouch, i'd hate to lose sweet feet. :( he's so all around good plus a great guy to have on the team.
as far as gilmore, would be good to keep him, but will he be happy?
 

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ouch, i'd hate to lose sweet feet. :( he's so all around good plus a great guy to have on the team.
as far as gilmore, would be good to keep him, but will he be happy?

After tonight doesn't JC have something 9 ints. May not need Gilmore. He's a very nice piece to have but not sure he's necessary. Jackson is a superstar in the making.
 
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Yesterday DMac said he and Jason both want to be in on the successful rebuild of the Patriots. Count them both back next year. Heard on NFL SXM
 
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After tonight doesn't JC have something 9 ints. May not need Gilmore. He's a very nice piece to have but not sure he's necessary. Jackson is a superstar in the making.

May not but his injury will make it hard to trade him until after the season starts. Teams will want to see him play without residual issues.
There's no way BB will release him. His dead cap would be almost $8M which is more than his base salary for next year of $7M.
There's nothing wrong with having 2 great CBs; 3 with Jon Jones.
 

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We have big area of concern , ILB , DT , DE . The biggest weakness WR & receiving TE. It wont matter if we draft a QB high. If we don’t get WR’s That give illusion of strenching the field. Become reliable targets. Myers will be new Slot WR. We just need outside WR‘s that has been BB achilles heal in drafts .
 
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We have big area of concern , ILB , DT , DE . The biggest weakness WR & TE. It wont matter if we draft a QB high. If we don’t get WR’s That give illusion of strenching the field. Become reliable targets. Myers will be new Slot WR. We just need outside WR‘s that has been BB achilles heal in drafts .

Thankfully there's plenty of time and money to get it done before OTAs.
 

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One stat mentioned last night was that the Pats had the highest average points in the league over the last 20 years at right around 27 point something and this year they are at 20 point something and dead last.

So, all the struggles and horrible 3 and outs. All the coverage sacks and turnovers and defenses stacking the box and the difference is approximately one TD per game. Not three. Not two.

Can we find a passable passing game and 7 points per game this offseason? Is that the difference between where we are right now and being a team that can truly compete again?

I supposed that, in the wake of the giddy funeral celebrated by most of America last night -- what history will someday view as the absolute low point for the BB era -- that we aren't really as far away as our emotions might be telling us after sitting through that thorough and comprehensive beating.

I'd definitely welcome Hunter Henry and Lavonte David. That'd be a start. David, Uche and Chase will require two big-assed tough guys in the IDL who are currently not on the roster to pair in a rotation with L. Guy. I'd welcome Julian Edelman back and another vet that requires respect from defenses and the offense looks different.

Find us a QB that can be better than average. A tall order, but I choose to believe that it must and will happen.
 

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Bill will sort out a lot of issues in FA. His track record shows that it is the likely scenario.

I don't follow college ball, is there any QB there aside from Lawrence, who looks good or more to the point, who Bill might be interested to look at?
 
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Bill will sort out a lot of issues in FA. His track record shows that it is the likely scenario.

I don't follow college ball, is there any QB there aside from Lawrence, who looks good or more to the point, who Bill might be interested to look at?

Yes. The 2021 draft thread talks about them
 

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One big way to address the weakness . Is to Sign Both Godwin & Davis to deals. That’s very unlikely to Happen , That would Allow BB to just worry about QB & Defense in draft . Having a threat of a passing game. Could open things up for Rookie Tes to show something.
 

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You go to the games, you cheer them on, and you try to change the outcome of the game. Other than that, (and maybe sending your karma and belief in their direction), there's nothing you can do about the team. They had a fine, unheralded last 20 seasons (except for this season). It's fine. They're now just like every other local team-good times and bad times. They'll get new players and coaches. I'll still watch them, and hope for the best, as I have since 1973 or so.
 

Mazz22

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One stat mentioned last night was that the Pats had the highest average points in the league over the last 20 years at right around 27 point something and this year they are at 20 point something and dead last.

So, all the struggles and horrible 3 and outs. All the coverage sacks and turnovers and defenses stacking the box and the difference is approximately one TD per game. Not three. Not two.

Can we find a passable passing game and 7 points per game this offseason? Is that the difference between where we are right now and being a team that can truly compete again?

I supposed that, in the wake of the giddy funeral celebrated by most of America last night -- what history will someday view as the absolute low point for the BB era -- that we aren't really as far away as our emotions might be telling us after sitting through that thorough and comprehensive beating.

I'd definitely welcome Hunter Henry and Lavonte David. That'd be a start. David, Uche and Chase will require two big-assed tough guys in the IDL who are currently not on the roster to pair in a rotation with L. Guy. I'd welcome Julian Edelman back and another vet that requires respect from defenses and the offense looks different.

Find us a QB that can be better than average. A tall order, but I choose to believe that it must and will happen.
That 7 point swing is huge. It may seem small because you are choosing to view it as one score per game when in reality it is a ton more scores because it is an average. Let me explain.

We are currently at 19.9 points/game which ranks us at #28 (298 total points). If you go to the team that is 7 points higher than us you get the Arizona Cardinals at 26.9 and they are ranked #10 (403 total points). That is a monumental difference. We have had games where we have scored 10, 12, 6, 3, 12, 9 points. We have only had 7 games where we scored more than 20 points. Arizona had one game where they scored 12 and another game where they scored 17. Every other game was not only above 20 but they had 7 games where they scored 30+.

That gives you more of an idea of what it means to jump 7 points in average in points scored. It is a lot more than just scoring one more TD a game.
 
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