With the spreading of the Coronavirus, the sports world has all but shut down. March Madness was cancelled, and the NBA, NHL, and MLB seasons were suspended. However, the NFL has gone on as scheduled, with a frenzy of free agency moves and trades coming out last week. Among these moves were the trades of DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs and the signing of Byron Jones. None of those were the biggest move of the entire offseason, though, at least to us New-Englanders.
Tom Brady left the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a 2-year, $50 million deal. Why? It seems the Pats were not willing to offer that kind of money, and the receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin was alluring for Brady. So, he will take his talents to Tampa Bay, which instantly improves the Bucs’ playoff chances. However, I did not want to write this article on the Buccaneers, as that is a common topic today.
First, let me stress that it would be incredibly shocking for the Patriots to have a major regression next season. Is it likely they make the playoffs? No. However, it would be surprising if they finished any lower than 7-9. Even after losing linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins Sr., their defense will be formidable like last year. With the McCourty brothers and Stephon Gilmore in the secondary, they will be fine. On offense, center David Andrews will likely be back after missing the entirety of last season because of his blood clots. Their group of skill players should be similar to last year’s, with Julian Edelman, Sony Michel, and James White leading the pack. And then there’s their obvious hole, quarterback. Bill Belichick has so many options for his QB spot, so who will he choose to be Tom Brady’s successor?
His first option is home-grown talent. Last year, the Pats drafted QB Jarrett Stidham with the 133rd overall pick. Despite his youth and fourth-round selection, Stidham has a legit chance at winning the job. He has received praise from Belichick and his teammates. He dominated the 2019 preseason, having thrown 731 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. He has a great chance to pull the starting job for the Pats this year or in the future.
Or, the Patriots can always sign someone new. Jameis Winston is still on the market. He had one of the most polarizing seasons in NFL history in 2019. Winston threw for over 5,000 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, but he also tossed 30 interceptions. Under the guidance of Bill Belichick, he could become a dominant force, though. Another option here is Cam Newton. He was just released by the Carolina Panther after missing the majority of last season with an injury. In 2015, Cam was the best player in the NFL, but since then, it has been a downward spiral. From 2016-2018, he was consistent, but not great, and last season was lost. Only time will tell if he can return to his dominant ways. If there is anyone who can nurse Newton back to his former self, it is Bill Belichick. So, those are two projects Bill could take on for New England.
Finally, the Patriots could draft their signal-caller of the future. The 2020 NFL Draft class includes LSU stud Joe Burrow, Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa, and Oregon product Justin Herbert. Fourth on the list, there is Utah State QB Jordan Love. With the 23rd pick in the draft, the Pats could end up taking Love. He has the talent to become a star in the NFL, but if the Pats do take Love, he will need a year or two to develop. Another name linked to the Patriots is Jalen Hurts. Hurts was the Heisman runner-up in 2019 and could go to New England in the third round. However, we could always see the Pats tank for a top pick in next year’s draft, granting them wunderkind Trevor Lawrence of Clemson.
So, will it be Jarrett Stidham? Or Cam “Superman” Newton? Or maybe a young gun like Jalen Hurts? Or even a mixture of these options? This may not be the most successful season for New England, but that does not mean it will not be exciting. There is a new chapter in one of football’s most hated franchises. Who will be the author?
Image Sources: WEEI, WCCB Charlotte, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports, Sporting News, The Boston Herald