With OTAs and training camp on the horizon, each NFL team can start building next seasons roster and putting their new players to work in their schemes. With each team getting a majority of their signings and trades done and drafting new players, some teams took full advantage of their offseason and got significantly better, one such team is the New England Patriots. How did they do? What were their biggest moves? What is their offseason grade? Let’s find out…
The Patriots brought back some key pieces to their team to mentor the new guys, among them were David Andrews, James White, and Deatrich Wise Jr., these players are worth bringing back and will be good to have on Sundays. Other players that were resigned include Lawrence Guy and Nick Folk, who will bolster the roster further. The Patriots didn’t suffer too many losses, but the biggest ones were Joe Thuney and Adam Butler. While Thuney will be missed, he will be replaced by the up and coming Mike Onwenu, Butler on the other hand isn’t too serious of a loss and was replaced in free agency and a replacement was drafted too.
In free agency, the struggling offense was reinforced with many new weapons that will help the overall explosiveness in a lackluster unit. First, the Patriots upgraded at right tackle by bringing in Trent Brown (a former Patriot) and it only gets better. The Pats lacked production from the tight ends, so Bill Belichick signed the two best tight ends on the market, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The two tight end set always did wonders for the Patriots and now it’s back. The receiving core was retooled with a deep threat in Nelson Agholor and a speedster in Kendrick Bourne, pair them with an unsung Jakobi Meyers and you have a respectable unit.
While the defense was still productive last season, the unit as a whole lost a step, so in free agency, Belichick grabbed Matthew Judon to set the edge and Davon Godchaux as a depth piece for the interior. Another former Patriot, Kyle Van Noy, was brought back to revitalize the linebacker core and the versatile Jalen Mills was signed to contribute to a dangerous defensive backfield. Some other names that were added are Henry Anderson and Raekwon McMillan, who could be swapped around with the starters as solid depth players. Also Dont’a Hightower is coming back from the opt out list, so the defense looks to be as strong as ever.
The Patriots absolutely knocked it out of the park with their draft, starting with the Alabama QB Mac Jones, who has a high floor and a ceiling of a great pocket passer. In round 2, the Pats got a steal in another Alabama player, the defensive tackle, Christian Barmore. Barmore can be an excellent run stuffer and a powerful rusher. The same can be said for the 3rd rounder from Oklahoma, Ronnie Perkins and the bruising running back from round 4 Rhamondre Stevenson (also from Oklahoma). Add in some other late rounders and you have a great draft that can impact the team right away.
All the Pats’ weaknesses were dealt with in some way and while they still have needs, they aren’t glaring flaws like last season. When you look at a big free agency and a killer draft class, I think it’s safe to say that the Patriots had a tremendous offseason and could potentially launch themselves back into division contention.
Offseason Grade: A