Last year was a down year for the New England Patriots and the results weren’t shocking looking back on 2020 as a whole.
It started with the COVID-19 Pandemic with the Patriots losing a league high eight players due to opt-outs. There was also the loss of longtime face-of-the-franchise (Tom) Brady, who spent his first 20 seasons of his HOF career in New England. Brady packed his bags and headed south, agreeing to a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Bucs. They were left with an abnormal, depleted Patriots roster that was aging, didn’t have much skill (on either side of the ball), and no clear answer at quarterback after Brady’s departure. They eventually found his replacement in Cam Newton, but with the contract he was given (playing for pennies by NFL standards) and how late in the off-season it was when he signed, it’s hard to get excited about him being the preferred guy after Tom. Instead, it felt like Belichick was treating the quarterback position like the wide receiver room and that was shopping in the clearance aisle in Walmart. All that led to a much deserved 7-9 record and no trip to the playoffs. Not only was that hard to swallow for Belichick and Patriots fans, but on February 7th there was who playing in the Super Bowl? Yup, that’s right,Tom Brady with his new team.
So without stating the obvious, just a reminder 2020 was as bad as it has been for the New England Patriots since the early 90’s. Nothing to look forward to and ultimately hit closer to rock bottom by their standards than they had in a very, VERY, long time.
All that led up to Monday’s opening free agent tampering period and saw an unusual aggressive approach in pursuing free agents on the open market. After agreeing to re-sign Cam Newton to a one-year deal, the Patriots signed former Titans tight end Jonnu Smith to kick off a wild first couple days in New England. They also brought in wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, edge rusher Matt Judon, former Pat/Dolphin Kyle Van Noy, defensive back Jalen Mills and traded for former Pat/Raider tackle Trent Brown. And there was more in the tight end pool, with Smith not being enough (for Bill) by himself, because on Tuesday the Patriots swarmed in once more and signed fellow position teammate Hunter Henry. Who, aside from Smith, was lobbied by many as the premium fish at the tight end position ahead of free agency. So now at what was a league worst and laughing stock of a position, the Patriots don’t have the “BEST” tight end, but I do put them very close to the top as arguably the league’s best tight end dual going into 2021.
For now, the Patriots still have just Cam Newton to show for at quarterback, despite their huge upgrade to their roster. Reports are still floating around that they are searching for their guy under center, whether that be via trade or getting their preferred signal caller in the draft. Cam could still end up being the starter come week 1 as a placeholder. However, the question should be… ‘Cam’ the Patriots win in 2021? And the answer should be once more after a year off: yes!