Patriots Aren’t as Far Away as You May Think
The New England Patriots are in a very unique position, they have a boatload of money to spend this offseason. In a season where the cap has gone down significantly, many notable players are being cut and the market for top-quality players will be cheaper than usual. Teams have less money to spend so naturally players get paid less. The Patriots have $68,520,056 (only less than the Jets and Jags), for those of you that don’t know what that means, it means they are going to be significantly better than they were last year. Even if there were question marks surrounding the quarterback position heading into this season.
Can Cam Return to Form?
Cam Newton is the first name that comes to mind when you think about the Patriots this offseason. It looks like the Patriots have given him an opportunity to prove himself in a 2nd year of this system and a full offseason to get the hang of the playbook. Everything that came out of the organization was praise and positivity, the players took to him instantly and acknowledged that he was the leader from the moment he stepped into that locker room. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels also seemed to be in constant praise for his hard work and leadership. Cam’s play in the first few games lived up to that and it seemed to be working well. The first game against Miami wasn’t lights out but he did what he had to, having not played football in over a year.
The 2nd game against Seattle however, had shades of 2015. Threw for 397 yards on 75% passing along with another 47 yards rushing and 3 total touchdowns. The Patriots came within a yard of winning that game. A solid showing against the Raiders took the Patriots to 2-1. Then the unfortunate event of COVID ultimately ruined the season for Cam. Having joined the team 6 weeks prior to the season starting he was already behind, this set him back even further to the point of evidently no return. Prior to suffering from COVID Cam was on an uphill trend and most firmly believe that given this opportunity, he could recapture some of the elite form he displayed in 2015 and in spots this past season.
Free Agency – The Fun Stuff
The Patriots have a massive war chest this off-season, in a season where many very good players are being cut and looking for jobs, it puts them in a unique spot. There won’t be much competition for free agents because teams simply don’t have the money, and even if they do it’s not enough to compete with the Patriots.
Anyone who watched the Patriots even for a quarter last season will be able to tell you the glaring need for a receiver (anyone at all). New England is known for consistently drafting horribly at the wide receiver position. This year they won’t need to, there are so many pass-catchers available in free agency at wide-out and tight end that the Patriots could have an entirely new look offense going into the new season. How does an offense with Kenny Golladay, Emmanuel Sanders, and Hunter Henry to go with your plethora of running backs sound? And again because of the amount of money the Patriots have to spend a situation like that is entirely possible. Now put pre-COVID Cam Newton at the head of that and now you have a dynamic offense.
Other names on the list of Free Agent wide receivers include; Golladay’s former teammate Marvin Jones, AJ Green, TY Hilton, Golden Tate and so many more. They have so much room to maneuver, and when you think about it, becomes worrying for the other teams in the AFC East. This is before we even begin to talk about the running backs and tight ends available but I won’t bore you with the details (Kenyan Drake, Kyle Rudolph, Phillip Lindsay sorry I had to).
The Forgotten Men?
New England had more players opt. outs due to COVID than any other team in the league (8). Core players who have been key to the Patriots’ success over the last decade. Names like Patrick Chung and Dont’a Hightower spring to mind on defense. They are set to return along with Marcus Cannon and full-back Dan Vitale on offense.
All these factors lead you to believe that the Patriots are well on their way to being ‘back’. Bill Belichick with all this talent to work with on both sides of the ball would give any team in the league some problems. Especially when, for the first time in his career, he has a point to prove. Do not sleep on the New England Patriots.