What's Next for the Patriots
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What’s Next for the Patriots?

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Many football fans said the New England Patriots’ dynasty was over when Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Only time will tell if their right, but the odds the Patriots win as much without Brady are pretty slim. In this article, I will discuss what is next for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. 

 

What's Next for the Patriots
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The quarterback situation for the Patriots has been decided after taking their sweet time in the offseason. According to Ian Rapoport, Sunday evening, they signed former MVP, Cam Newton, to a one year contract worth up to $7.5 million.

Signing him to a one year deal shows that they do not want to fully commit but need somebody to fill the gap for now. Many believed it was Jarrett Stidham’s job to lose, but obviously, many were wrong. The Pats signed Brian Hoyer as in a mentor role as a backup like he’s always been. If they trusted Stidham to start, they would not have signed Newton. This doesn’t mean they don’t trust Stidham as a player, but they probably believe he’s not quite ready yet. I still think he’s in play as an option for the future.

Even though Newton has dealt with injuries and controversial attitude issues, his star-studded characteristics can quickly return now that he’s found a new home with the Patriots. They want a solid quarterback who is ready to fill in the gap for one year and see how things go from there. Bill Belichick wouldn’t have signed him if they didn’t believe he could get wins.

 

What's Next for the Patriots
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Newton was injured for the majority of last season, but in 2017, his quarterback rating was 94.2. That’s the second-highest completion percentage for a season that he’s had in his career, just below his MVP season in 2015. He threw for 24 touchdowns and averaged 242.2 yards per game. He only played 14 games that season, but that shows he’s still had recent flashes of talent despite losing games with the Carolina Panthers.

 

 

Let me address what the people who despise the Patriots assume they will be doing: “tanking.” With the amount of talent they have on their team, there is almost no way they could tank even if they tried. Here’s the biggest reason for that. 

 

Bill Belichick is their head coach! He managed to coach Matt Cassel to an 11-5 record in 2008 and coached Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett to a 3-1 record during Brady’s four-game suspension in 2016. Signing Newton shows that they are still trying to win as many games as possible. The retirement of their former offensive line coach, Dante Scarnecchia, hurts them a lot, but they still have Josh McDaniels, who has done a great job coordinating their offense.

 

What's Next for the Patriots
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Another area? That talented defense. The Pats lost impactful pieces such as Kyle Van Noy, Danny Shelton, and Jamie Collins. However, they still have great players such as the 2019 defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore, two-time pro bowler, Devin McCourty, two-time pro bowler, Dont’a Hightower, and reliable safety, Patrick Chung. Gilmore tied for the league lead in interceptions with six and defended 20 passes.

At 32 years old, McCourty recorded five interceptions last year and defended seven passes, proving that he still has “it” regardless of his age. Hightower recorded five sacks, 13 quarterback hits and even recorded a fumble for a touchdown. Chung recorded 38 tackles and combined for 58. Also, though those aren’t his best numbers, they are enough to prove his productivity because he only played twelve games.

The Patriots also re-signed players showing that they are not trying to let all the talent walk so they could tank. They franchise tagged Joe Thuney, which they can either use as a reliable guard or trade value. Even though he is rumored as a possible trade, his contract is valuable, and he is worth something no matter how one looks at it. They also signed McCourty to a two-year deal worth approximately $23 million. If the Patriots were trying to tank, they would have let both of those talents walk away and then try to form a young roster that would result in the most possible losses.   

 

The Patriot’s top priority is to maintain its productive defense for the foreseeable future.

 

They traded down their first-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft for an early second-round pick to sign a safety out of Lenoir-Rhyne, Kyle Dugger. This move was so they have somebody to take over for Patrick Chung or Devin McCourty once they get too old or retire. They used their next two picks to pick up a linebacker out of Michigan, Josh Uche, and an outside linebacker out of Alabama, Anfernee Jennings. They are trying to keep an elite level defense to become a dynasty without Brady. As the saying goes, defense wins championships. 

 

What's Next for the Patriots
Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

The Patriots will be starting Cam Newton and will not be tanking next season. With that being said, they will not be at the Super Bowl favorite spot where they have been for most of Brady’s time there. They are still trying to win as their signing of Newton shows, but what they are mainly doing is freeing up some cap space while keeping valuable talent that they know will succeed.

According to Spotrac, their projected cap space before signing Newton for 2021 was $94.1 million. That is the fifth-highest cap space in the league for that time. Even though Newton’s signing damages that a bit, it’s just a one-year deal that is not even fully guaranteed at $7.5 million. Belichick is great at finding cheap players who succeed in his system, so he will target those types of players next year. If Newton does not produce well, they could either go with Jarrett Stidham, draft a new quarterback and start him right away, or sign a free agent while another drafted project develops.

 

Free-agent quarterbacks for 2021 include Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers, and Mitchell Trubisky. If they manage to land Winston, he could take on the quarterback job for the future, and they could draft other positions. If they manage to land or choose Rivers or Trubisky, they could be placeholders until another drafted quarterback joins the team. 

 

So, what’s next for the Patriots? It seems to be scoping how things go with Newton, freeing up cap space for next year, and maintaining an elite level defense for the foreseeable future. If things go the way they are planning, the Patriots’ dynasty might not be over like many think it is.

 

– Kyle Randolph – Franchise Sports Media

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