Do the New England Patriots go all in 2020 and try one last push for a Super bowl with Tom Brady? Or does Bill Belichick retool and focus on the long term health of the organization?
This off-season for the New England Patriots is more interesting and more important than any off-season in recent memory. Of course Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft have to deal with the immediate headache of resolving the Tom Brady contract situation. No matter what Brady does, the Patriots are going to have to address the quarterback situation by either re-signing Brady, or start looking for his replacement. I also assume that Belichick already has a plan A, B, and C, when it comes to Brady and the Patriots quarterback situation.
There are also other pressing concerns like; Kyle Van Noy, Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins, Matthew Slater, and Joe Thuney. The Patriots can’t afford to re-sign everybody and some tough decisions will have to be made, and for the guys they can’t re-sign, Belichick and newly extended Nick Cesario will have to figure out how to replace them.
The word “Replacement” is what makes this offseason so intriguing for the Patriots. There are three different ways that the Patriots can attack this off-season. The Patriots have the option to try and go all in for the 2020 season. Re-sign Tom Brady, sign either AJ Green or Amari Cooper. Belichick can move on from some costly veterans, rebuild the tight end position, and fix the offensive line through the draft. The defense will be significantly downgraded from 2019, but if Brady performs at high levels, the offense could try and make up for the defensive deficiencies, and hope it's good enough to bring them back to the Super Bowl.
Best case scenario, the Patriots win their seventh Lombardi trophy, and head into the 2021 season with an older, but somewhat competitive team. Worst case scenario, Brady plays like he's 43, the Patriots don't make it to the Super Bowl, and Pat's Nation prepares for the dark days. In order for Belichick to be able to build the current roster into a Super Bowl caliber team in 2020, he's probably going to have to give up some serious draft assets both in 2020 and 2021. That of course, keeps the Patriots older, and it will take the 2022, 2023, and 2024 draft to rebuild the team.
Going all in for the 2020 and possibly the 2021 season doesn't help the teams long term health. There's also no guarantee that the Patriots going all in will be good enough to get them to the Super Bowl.
The more ideal path to take, is continuing to keep retooling the team through the draft. The Patriots have a good young core both on offense and defense to build around, and they can use their existing veterans to stay up to snub with the better teams in the AFC.
Offensively the Patriots have RB's Sony Michel and Damien Harris. WR's N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers. Offensive linemen David Andrews, Isaiah Wynn, and Shaq Mason. Adding one of the primer receivers in this year's draft will add another explosive weapon, and that would allow Harry to play a lesser role and play as the number two receiver for the Patriots in the future, as well as dropping him to number three or four in 2020 behind Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu.
Belichick can address the offensive line through the draft, and also pick up one of the promising tight ends. Even though the tight end position is thin in the draft, Belichick can trade out of his first round pick and acquire a second. Belichick could get a good tight end in the second round, and build the receivers and the line in the third. Or he could trade up and get another second round pick and pick a receiver higher. The depth at wide receiver in 2020, allows Belichick some freedom to address his pass catchers.
If Belichick elects to build the offense through the draft, then he can afford to bring back both Tom Brady and Devin McCourty. The only future position Belichick will have to worry about is quarterback, but bringing Brady back for a year or two gives him time to find a replacement, or allow Jarrett Stidham to develop into a starter. Don't forget the Patriots got Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, he wasn't a top 10 pick.
The Patriots Defensively have CB's JC Jackson and Joejuan Williams. LB Ja'Whaun Bently. DE Chase Winovich. Belichick can re-sign Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, Adam Butler, and Danny Shelton and focus on making the defense younger in 2021. Let's also not forget that the Patriots still have All Pro, and Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore which will keep the Patriots defense competitive.
If the Patriots address 2020 properly, New England may not have to face two or three years of two win seasons. Maybe the Patriots aren't seen as Super Bowl contenders, and they would probably need a little luck to win a championship. But, the team could stay competitive and put themselves in a position where they could possibly find themselves in the championship.
Belichick is also the guru at identifying value talent like Kyle Van Noy, who will perform way above their pay scale.
So, though it sounds very appealing to see the Patriots go all in this year and try to win one more championship, the reality is, they could very easily not, and be set up for a lot of pain in the future. Retooling the team and focusing on the now and the future doesn't guarantee a championship, but neither does signing AJ Green, so the decision that Belichick needs to make is, which path does he want to take, and which one he thinks is better for the team and the organization.