Bill Belichick, Patriots
Nov 15, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots have myriad questions heading into offseason

The New England Patriots were the model of NFL consistency for two decades, but this offseason is one of confounding problems.

Does anybody enter this offseason with more questions than the New England Patriots?

Sure, the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets have far more work ahead of them, but the quarterback situation is clear in those front offices. Jacksonville will select Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick, and the Jets probably take BYU’s Zach Wilson next.

 

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Yeah, the Houston Texans are a complete disaster — thanks in large part to former New England employees Nick Caserio and Jack Easterby — but the future is obvious. It’s a full-on rebuild which, until further notice, appears to be starring Deshaun Watson despite his angst.

However, the Patriots are a complete mystery. Who is playing quarterback? Will Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore see the field for New England in 2021? Who is the top target in the passing game? Who is the pass-rusher that can anchor a front seven?

For the first question — and the most pressing — there doesn’t seem to be an in-house answer. Cam Newton came over on a one-year deal for 2020 but was underwhelming, throwing for a paltry eight touchdowns. Despite Newton’s numbers, Jarrett Stidham never saw meaningful time, perhaps an insight into head coach Bill Belichick’s opinion of the youngster.

Would the Patriots sign a starter once more and if so, who? The market is barren at quarterback with Jameis Winston as perhaps the best option alongside 36-year-old Alex Smith. New England could be wise to dabble with a signal-caller in the first round. However, to land one of the top four prospects, the Pats may need to trade up from the No. 15 overall pick.

 

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Now, as for Edelman and Gilmore, it seems unlikely both return. Gilmore has a year left and is a prime traded candidate after having a good-but-not-great 2020. The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year would likely bring back a top-50 pick and maybe additional capital. Edelman, 34, has one year left and after dealing with injuries last season, is probably back for one more campaign.

The Patriots are armed with approximately $66.5 million in cap space. Only the Jaguars and Jets have more. Belichick has a legion of issues to address on both sides of the ball, something which will take one master stroke after the next to fix.

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