The New England Patriots have seen far more players exit during this offseason then they have seen added to the roster, but it’s too early to panic. Even with one of those departing players being Tom Brady, Pats fans should still have a degree of trust in Bill Belichick’s ability to build a winner on both sides of the ball.
That said, there are three positions in need of major attention after the departures of key personnel.
The Patriots wanted to re-sign Ted Karras after he filled in admirably for David Andrews in 2019. However, former Patriots coach Brian Flores, who is now the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins, helped to woo Karras away from New England.
With Karras gone, the Patriots have only Andrews on the roster at the position. While Andrews is more than capable, he did miss all of 2019 with blood clots. Because of that, there will be justifiable questions about his long-term health. With that hanging over the Patriots’ heads, it stands to reason the team could look to ink a veteran center, if for no other reason than to supply some depth.
Jon Halapio, who also missed all of the 2019 season for the New York Giants with a leg injury, is still available and he might be a reasonably priced option for the Patriots. You’d almost expect to see New England look to bring in a veteran as insurance in addition to potentially drafting a center in the middle rounds.
Rarely will you see a team throw a rookie on the field at center, especially in a situation where he may be snapping the ball to an inexperienced quarterback.
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The Patriots’ linebacking corps has been ravaged by the 2020 free agent season. Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins Sr. and Elandon Roberts have all left, and the Patriots only have Dont’a Hightower, Brandon King, Ja’Whaun Wheatley, Tashawn Bower and Terez Hall on the roster.
Aside from Hightower who is the only returning starter at linebacker, there is little to no starting experience. To say the Patriots need linebackers is a major understatement.
We tossed around the idea of Clay Matthews III coming in, but there is no talk of the multiple-time Pro-Bowler showing interest in coming to the Patriots. A player like Josh Bynes might be more of a fit, but it seems more likely New England could use their first-round pick (No. 23 overall) to draft a linebacker who can start in Week 1 of the 2020 season.
Wisconsin’s Zack Baun is a name to remember.
As of right now, the Patriots have the unproven Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler at quarterback. If the season started today, Stidham would be QB1. Is anyone really comfortable with that?
Who knows, Stidham could blossom into a star, but it just doesn’t seem wise to head into the 2020 season with a second-year QB who has thrown just four passes in his career as the starter, and his only backup is an undersized journeyman on his third team heading into his fourth season in the NFL. Kessler has a 2-10 record as a starter. The Patriots don’t have to panic and chase a veteran who can start right away.
If they went after Cam Newton, whom most expect to be released by the Carolina Panthers soon, the Patriots would be bringing in a big-name player who is set to take the helm after Brady. That’s probably not what the Pats are looking for this offseason.
Seeing New England draft a QB anywhere from the second to the fifth round is more likely, and that guy will probably be looked at as the eventual starter unless Stidham proves to be more than just a placeholder.