Blog Archives

Are We Ready? Part III…

Lastly, everybody else:

Defense:

DE (3):

Locks:  John Simon, Chase Winovich

In:  Derek Rivers

Out: Deatrich Wise, Keionta Davis, Nick Thurman, Tashawn Bower

Comments:  Wishful thinking on Wise I guess.  Rivers perhaps too.  With Wise, it’s probably time for him to go.  He still looks like he can add value, but they haven’t played him much.  And when they do, he always commits at least one dumb penalty.  As for Rivers, he has played one season out of his three thus far.  Two full years on injured reserve.  I only added him here because while we have seen enough of Wise on the field, we really haven’t with Rivers.  Can he play?  Who the hell knows?

Truth be told, this position could use a major upgrade, so they both probably won’t be here when the smoke clears.  And it probably won’t matter.

I’m not sure I even want Winovich to play full time either.  He looks to me like a situational pass rusher and core special teamer.  But what do I know?

I’d use a few draft picks here for sure.

DT (4):

Locks:  Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Beau Allen

In:  Byron Cowart

Out:  None

Comments:  I don’t know a single thing about Allen.  He has to be as good as Danny Shelton though, no?  Well, the 2019 version.  Not the 2018 healthy scratch one.  Again, I am not sure why we will miss Shelton anyway.  When did he become a key loss?  It’s not exactly like the Pats were real stout against the run last year.

In a normal year, Guy may be a candidate for an extension and a lower cap number.  But again, I don’t think the Pats are doing that with anyone this offseason.  Everyone who watched tape swore that Guy was awesome…and has been since he has joined the Pats.  I’ll take their word for it.  Again, how were they against the run last season?  Sigh…

Expect a draft pick or two here as well.

LB (5):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley

In:  Shilique Calhoun, Brandon Copeland, Terez Hall

Out:  None

Comments:  Calhoun I guess plays some “edge” and is a special teamer.  Copeland comes from the Jets, which automatically makes me question him.  Hall is getting some buzz here in the spring as a guy that could make some noise.  That should make Hall himself nervous.  Too early for that kind of hype.

Hightower is one of the three aforementioned players with huge cap hits that could be addressed.  But similar to Devin McCourty last season, we think Dont’a gets all his money on this contract and plays this year as is.  Leadership, team transition, call it what you want.  Hightower has won Super Bowls and will probably be seeking one last big fat contract before he is done.  He was allowed to shop himself last time he hit free agency (a la Devin), but nothing apparently materialized and he ended up back in NE.  Maybe he took a discount last time.  But not next time.  Bill will gladly take the compensatory pick next year when Dont’a walks.

Big year for Bentley.  Let’s see if he can get back to what he showed in his rookie season before his injury.  Because he was no great shakes last year.

Draft picks are sure to be had here as well.

And at least Elandon Roberts is gone.

CB (5):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams

In:  None

Out:  D’Angelo Ross, Lenzy Pipkins

Comments:  Some buzz about trading Gilmore now…who is the last of the three I mentioned earlier (Hightower, Thuney) that would be normal candidates for extension or trade to get the cap number down on a team that would seem to be transitioning.  Steph has another year besides this one left on his deal and after he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, no doubt will be looking for a HUGE payday in his next deal.  At age 29 right now, he is unlikely to get it here.  I expect him to be here this year at the current cap number.  Then I would absolutely not rule out a trade next offseason, even if this season goes way better than expected.

Pretty solid cornerback group otherwise.  Keeping Jason McCourty at his inflated option price probably helped keep his brother Devin.  But in today’s NFL, with its emphasis on passing, you would seem to need a slew of good corners.  So having Jason around won’t hurt them.

Jones plays well out of the slot and Jackson is still young and improving.  He may be the #2 guy this year anyway.

I don’t see the Pats giving up on last years’ second rounder Williams.  Although, they gave up on the previous years’ second rounder, Duke Dawson, fairly quickly.  And Joejuan got busted for drugs earlier in the offseason.  So that can’t help.  But since the drugs were weed, he’s probably safe.

S (5):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Terrance Brooks

In: Obi Melifonwu, Adrian Phillips

Out:  Adarius Pickett, Malik Gant

Comments:  Somewhat surprising Devin got as much dough as he did…but it was only for two years, so I am ok with it.  Especially under the circumstances.  Meaning, his leadership matters.  And, more importantly, a LOT of contracts are coming off the books in the next couple of years.

In fact, while we are talking about it, the Pats only have 12 players under contract in 2022.  8 are 1 million-ish and under.  Joejuan is about 2 and N’Keal about 3.  Only Jonathan Jones at about 8 and Mason at about 10 are significant outlays that year.

Interesting.

Anyway, back to the safeties.  Still old.  How much does Chung have left?  He took a beating last season.  Moreso than he usually takes.  Phillips (allegedly) and Brooks are glorified special teamers.  Maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi too (and I’ve never even seen any of the Star Wars…impressive, no??!!  Ok, ummm…).

Expecting some draftees here as well.

Specialists (8):

Locks:  ????? ?????????? (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Justin Bethel (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Brandon King (ST)

In:  Cody Davis (ST)

Out:  None

Comments:  Welp, they will eventually need a kicker.  So…that position has to kind of has to be a lock, no?  I’m thinking inexpensive, mid-round pick.  With Nick Folk (still unsigned) on speed dial.  No one is talking about it now either.  But can we rule out a return for long-time kicker…Stephen Gostkowski…at some point?  Haha…did you think I was going to say Adam Vinatieri?!  Nah.  He may come back to the Colts, but I am thinking his time has come for the old age home.  He won’t be here, for sure.

What if Gostkowski has a clean bill of health late in camp or at least early in the season?  And doesn’t have a job by then?  Would he come back for presumably short money?  I’d keep an eye on that for sure.

The rest of the guys…blah, blah, blah.  Have to have a requisite number of core special teamers, don’t you?

That concludes our waaaaaaay too early look at the roster.  Probably about 60% accurate from who will break camp with the team in August/September.  But always a fun exercise to do…even in April.  Again, since there isn’t much of anything better to do…

Next:  We are done…I wouldn’t have the energy I don’t think anyway…

Are We Ready?

Ready for what?

New England Patriot football post-Tom Brady.  That’s what.

Yup.  It’s here.  Or it will officially be in a few months.  But…are we ready?

I am.

After 20 years of Brady at the helm, is it time for someone different?

Not necessarily.  But that’s what both sides ultimately decided.  So that’s what we are getting.

Gonna feel a whole lot different in New England, no question.  Gonna be weird seeing Brady in a Buc uni, no question.  Wish him all the success in the world.  Thank you Tom for EVERYTHING.  Cannot be stated enough.  But best of luck in your new locale.

Brady’s gone and we have to live with it.  Can the Pats win a Super Bowl under Bill and another QB?  Can Tom win the whole thing in Tampa?  Or WILL they?  No idea, but I’m at least interested to see.  Not necessarily to prove one can win without the other though.  Who cares?  I don’t.  Together they gave us 6 Super Bowls in 20 years.  They both had a great deal to do with it.  But you know who’s else did?  Malcolm Butler.  Adam Vinatieri.  James White.  Danny Amendola.  The defensive backs of 2001:  Ty Law, Otis Smith, Lawyer Milloy & Willie “Big Play” Clay.  J.R. Redmond.  An unconscious (literally) David Patten.  Jermaine Wiggins.  Romeo Crennel.  Charlie Weis.  Dante Scarnecchia.  Josh McDaniels.  Julian Edelman.  Deion Branch.  Dee Ford lining up offside.  Billy Cundiff missing that chip shot…oops, the Pats lost the Super Bowl the game after that miss…nevermind.  But you get the point.  We could go on and on.  It was a lot of Bill and Tom.  But let’s not forget all the others that helped along the way.  So let’s root them both on going forward ok?  Unless we get a NE/TB super bowl.  Then we can pick a side.  But what are the odds of that happening?

So what’s next?

Glad you asked!!

In typical Blowhard fashion, let’s do a roster projection!!  Way too early of course.  The draft is a month or so away.  Still some free agents out there.  The country is still basically in lockdown.  But we can take a look now.  No harm in that.

Why not?  What the hell else is there to write about these days??

There are 67 players on the roster as we speak.  That means there are 23 spots remaining.  12 draft picks upcoming in the aforementioned draft, with perhaps a few vets sprinkled in with some undrafted free agents to fill out the 90 man camp roster.  If camp actually happens, that is.

Bottom line:  Lot’s of bodies still to come.

But these bodies will be low cost guys, no doubt about it.

The Patriots have very little salary cap space remaining.  Yes, the salary cap can be manipulated for sure.  But in 2020, with about 23 million tied up in dead money between Brady, Antonio Brown, Stephen Gostkowski, Michael Bennett and Duron Harmon alone, THIS may be the actual year they cannot manipulate anything.  The chickens do come home to roost sometimes.  I suppose 2020 is that time for the Pats.

I also read somewhere recently where the Patriots view 2020 not as a “bridge year”, mind you.  There are still plenty of good players remaining on the roster.  But it’s a year where the Pats “want to get younger and reset their finances”.  Think it was Tom E. Curran who said/wrote that, but if it was someone else, my apologies.

There are a few huge cap charges on the roster for this year where that player could sign an extension, be traded or cut or whatever else needs to happen to lower that specific cap charge.  Three players in particular.  But we will go over those players when we get to their positions.  And the bottom line is that I think nothing will be done with any of the three.  Not during this season anyway.

Taking all 12 draft picks they have seems like a stretch to me as well, despite having the 23 open spots.  They have 1 first, 4 thirds, 1 fourth, 3 sixth and 3 seventh round picks.  Wouldn’t shock me in the least bit if that first rounder was the first to go.  For a second this year and a first in 2021 perhaps.  Then Bill will turn that second rounder into 2 fifths and sixth.  Then 2 third rounders into a 2nd next year.  Etc.  We know how he does business.

All I’m saying is don’t expect any big names coming through the door from now until the start of the season…whether through trade, free agency or the draft.

Enough of the rambling.  Let’s get into the actual players, just like we normally do it each August.  We are skipping the “way out” category for now.  Because, let’s face it, no one is “way out” at this time of year.

Offense:

QB (2):

Locks:  Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer

In:  None

Out:  Cody Kessler

Comments:  Welp, as I was in the midst of writing this, Kessler was released.  So he’s definitely out.  But let’s leave him in this analysis because we will talk about adding a third QB here.

Forget about that third QB being Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, etc.  I mean, if you actually wanted any of these guys.  The Pats are rolling with Stidham.  And Hoyer as the “veteran backup”.  I guess Hoyer is lucky he knows the system.  Because just about anyone else would be a better backup.  Well, except Kessler apparently.

Those aforementioned established veterans would cost money…potentially lots of it.  A couple of them would cost draft capital and/or players in a trade.  As we said, the Pats don’t have a lot of cap room.  But we also don’t see them spending money on a Newton or a Winston even if they did.  Would they fit the system?  Is Newton truly healthy?  Can Winston take his head out of his arse?  Would either take a short money, “prove-it” type one year deal?  Do the Pats even want someone on a one year deal to quarterback the team?

Not sure about any of that.

We wouldn’t be shocked if the Pats drafted a QB, however.  But then again, do they want Stidham to have “real” competition?  And possibly lose confidence?  I don’t know.

The way it stands now, Stidham HAS to be the guy.  Hoyer’s agent is apparently telling anyone who will listen that his client was told he would be given the opportunity to win the starters’ job.  But…does he actually believe it?  Agent or client?  Or…ANYONE else??!

Sure, Hoyer could start the first couple of games to “ease” Stidham in.  I don’t see it though.  I have to believe they are rolling with “Stiddy” (as Devin McCourty has called him, not me).

Maybe a late round pick for the practice squad.  That’s about it.  But as I believe Bill Parcells once said, “I reserve the right to change my mind”.

Next:  The rest of the offense.

Dark…

…so the title was supposed to mean something different, what with the whole country (world?) seemingly shutting down due to the Coronavirus.

First the NBA

Then the NHL

PGA

NCAA

MLB

MLS

XFL

…and of course everything else right on down the list.  Including restaurants, bars, some stores, construction and all that kind of stuff locally.

People seem to be listening to the warnings to stay home.  Drove around a little last night in my town (gasp!) and it pretty much was a ghost town.

Damn Coronavirus!

So with absolutely no sports to talk about, what the hell is the Blowhard to do?

Do we shut down too?  Not sure what to talk about!  We all for damn sure know there is more than enough coverage about the virus itself, there needs to be nothing else said about it by me.  Not that I could even add anything intelligent about it anyway…we could help spread the news…or at least some misinformation about it.  But why bother?  Does anyone even know what to believe anymore?

I stopped reading coverage.  It’s all over the place.  So are the opinions…which I care even less about.

So I just stay home and stare at a blank TV screen.  Since there are no games…

But wait!

There is something left…NFL free agency.

Glad that was not delayed as well.  Folks were worried about “bad optics” with players getting gazillion dollar contracts during a worldwide health crisis.

Like those wouldn’t have happened anyway.

So why not just do it now?  Especially since sports fans need SOMETHING.  And maybe even non-sports fans need a little bit of this too…for a distraction.  Even if they hate the idea.

As for the local angle, which is really why we are here in the first place, things started off innocuously enough.

Devin McCourty re-signed.  As did Matthew Slater.  And Jason McCourty’s option was picked up.  Also, Adam Butler was tendered at a second round level, making him unlikely to go anywhere.

Although the money was kind of big for the first three, it’s not out of hand.  And it’s not long-term.  So I can live with that.

The Pats then franchised Joe Thuney.  SHOCKING.

Almost 15 mil for a guard.  When their other guard, Shaq Mason, makes like 10 mil.

That’s a LOT of dough for guards.  Thuney was supposedly good last year, according to those who actually grade offensive line play, and Mason has been good in the past (though not last year).  But the line sucked as a whole last season.  So this money is hard to justify.  I guess if they work out a long term deal with Thuney before the deadline in July (I think).  But Joe will still be 8 figures plus every year.

Besides, I thought Belichick only franchised kickers.  Both Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski were both franchised by the team…and I think both more than once.  Don’t fact-check me on this, however.

Then yesterday, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins both departed…well, they can’t officially “depart” until Wednesday when free agency actually starts.  But you get the idea.

They were the first defections.  That mattered anyway.

We thought Van Noy would get paid and walk…and he sure did get paid by the Dolphins.  Thought there was a chance Collins would be cheaper and would stay.  He had a great first half against bum teams, then slowly faded in the second half against better teams.  But he still got 3/30 from old friend Matt Patricia.  Good luck to all that out there in Detroit.

I guess that means Elandon Roberts will re-up at some point.  And that warms my heart.  Ummmmm…no it doesn’t.  He is simply not any good.  At either linebacker or fullback.  Despite what the beat writers want you to think.

We here at the Blowhard do not care about the rest of the Patriot free agents…if you haven’t heard that a million times in this space already.

That means you, Danny Shelton.  And you, Nate Ebner.  And most certainly you, Phillip Dorsett.

Welp, that is a bit of a lie.

Because we cared a smidge about one other guy.

Tom Brady.

Whodya think we were going to say silly, Ted Karras??!!

Yes Brady.  Yes we cared.  No we didn’t necessarily care if he was coming back to the Patriots.  We’ve said time and time again that we are not going to get all worked up about a 43 year old QB.  Despite the legend that he is.  The six Super Bowl rings that he led the Pats to.  The desire to see anyone play their whole career with one team.  The sadness or at least weirdness to see him in a different uniform and finish his career with a different team.

And all that.

But again, we root for the laundry here, and the player that wears that laundry as long as they wear it.  When they go to a different team, we don’t necessarily root for the player to fail (well, depends on who it is I guess…and where they end up…hello Johnny Damon on the Yankees, for example?).

We will NOT root for Brady to fail.  No matter who he goes to.  Even if it is the Jets (unlikely), Bills (probably not) or Dolphins (a chance perhaps?).  Or Steelers.  Or Broncos.  Or Giants.  Or anyone.

I will absolutely have none of that nonsense.

But my rooting interest is still the Patriots.  Simple as that.

Oh wait…in case you missed it, and I don’t know how the hell you may have, Brady announced on Instagram this morning that he will not be returning to the Pats.  There has been no contract agreed to with anyone else, as far as I can tell or have heard.  But he won’t be coming back here.

So the Brady watch is (kind of) over.  For all intents and purposes here anyway.

It will be interesting to see where he lands, no two ways about it.  But the most important part to a lot of us has already been revealed.

My sense all along was that Bill Belichick did not want Brady to come back.  Hell, he wanted Jimmy Football over Tom a few years back, we know that much.  He’s probably glad he was forced to keep Tom though, with the latest Super Bowl wins adding to the trophy case.  But still, it doesn’t change the fact that he wanted to move on from Brady a mere few years ago.

Jimmy Garoppolo is not coming back, however, as some rumors swirling the past few weeks would have you believe.

So who is next?

GREAT question.

Based on the Patriots’ current salary cap situation, wouldn’t it suggest they are riding or dying with Jarrett Stidham this upcoming season?

I know, I know, cap space can be manipulated in many ways.  Trades and cuts and restructurings and all that can happen too.

But at this point, they have very little cap room.  And that has to be a factor for right this second.

Recent rumors have suggested the Pats may be interested in Teddy Bridgewater.  I have a hard time believing they will shell out a ton of dough there though, even if the cap space became available.  Plus, a whole lot of other teams are interested in Bridgewater.

Cam Newton?  Doubt that as well.

Andy Dalton as a stopgap?  Those were the earlier rumors.  But I’d rather just go with Stidham, to be honest.

Lesser “stopgaps” have already agreed to terms with other clubs:  Marcus Mariota, Chad Henne, Case Keenum, Chase Daniel…

Cody Kessler?  Please.

Outside the box QB?  Who no one is talking about?  That may be the best choice of all of the above?

At this point, unless a truly viable QB comes out of the woodwork, I say go with Stidham.

Right now.

But stay tuned…things should get a whole lot more interesting all around…

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