2020 Pats: Roster & Beyond (non-QB edition)

steveluck7

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We have a thread devoted to 2020 QB talk. I wanted to start this one to talk about the rest of the roster for this year and in next few years.
If it's best to all be merged into a mega-thread, that's fine but i went with the SOSH mantra "New threads are good"

What does Brady's decision to to the rest of the roster in the immediate?

WR - Do they do anything with Edelman? On one hand, he's been Brady's binky so it seems natural to trade him to wherever Brady goes. On the other hand, having a veteran presence in the locker room and huddle could ease the transition to a new QB. Not to mention JE11 is now the biggest "star" on the team from a marketing perspective. There is also a $5 million dead cap hit if they do decide to trade him.
We also have Sanu, Harry, Myers, and Gunner. Not much flexibility there since the last 3 are in their 2nd year and Sanu has his salary fully guaranteed.

TE:
Do we really need to discuss this black hole? You can just release Lacosse and Izzo, save just about $2 million and start completely over. Still probably likely to get as much production from the TE position going with this option.

RB:
Michel has a big year ahead of him. Can he regain his form from 2018 with (hopefully) a more steady O-line and FB alongside? White is in his last year at a reasonable number. Burkhead is probably the most expendable piece with Damien Harris hopefully ready to take on an actual role in this offense.
Devlin's status will be interesting. Hopefully he's fully recovered and can contribute. if he can't, Jakob Johnson did seem to get better the more he played. Failing all of that, Roberts was more than adequate at the end of the season.

O-Line:
They just franchised Thuney. Does it make more sense to shop him or really work for a long-term contract? He's on the books for a big hit this year but if they could get some decent draft capital back (3rd this year & 2nd next?) would it be worth it to move on from him and have one of the "red-shirt rookies" take that spot? You're locked into Wynn, Mason, and Cannon with the aforementioned red-shirt guys, Froholdt and Cajuste there. They also placed a tender on Eluemunor, locking him in for this season. You could save $5 million by re-structuring both Cannon and Mason. Releasing Cannon frees up $5 million. Mason has a $4.9 million dead-cap hit if released.

Secondary:
They secured the McCourty twins for another year and haven't lost anyone from that group this off season. They could restructure Gilmore and save about $4.7 million but that kicks the can down the road for not a ton of savings in 2020. This was a big strength for the team last season and they're looking to bring the whole crew back again for this year. JoJuan Williams coming on could do wonders for flexibility and ability to trade someone like Jonathan Jones.

LB & DE- losing Van Noy and Collins puts a dent in the productivity and athleticism of that group. They still have Hightower, Bentley, Wise, Winovich, Simon, and Rivers (Ha!) This is an area that they need to add to. Very thin and unproven for such an important position in today's league. They don't have much room to do any significant restructures since Hightower is the only one of this group making any money. Simon ($2 million) and Rivers ($1million) are the only ones making over $1 million in that group.

D- Line
Looks like we're going with Guy, Butler, Cowart, and likely a low end FA or 2 plus draft pick(s).
Again, pretty thin (depth-wise!) in this unit. Given the lack of depth, there's not much to do here. releasing Guy would free up about $3.8 million).The only way I can see this happening is if they draft a stud DT, not likely given current draft position.

ST:
Slater is back, Bailey is here. I'll also include Bolden here as this is where most of his production comes from What to do with Ghost? Cutting him saves $3.5 million. How much of his struggles last year were injury related? Folk did a more than adequate job in his time here.

So, there we have it. Work to be done to fill spots and get better at some positions.
I can't ever see a Belichick coached team doing anything that even remotely looks like "tanking" so wholesale releases are off the table.
What moves can they make now to help this season while also setting them up for the next 5 years?
 

BaseballJones

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Offensive line is going to be great, assuming good health. That will make things on offense MUCH easier.

Running back is fine. I like the stable of backs they have.

Tight end is a disaster.

Wide receiver might be better than people think, but definitely not a strength.

Defensive line should be fine. Not outstanding, but fine.

Linebackers took a huge hit with Collins and Van Noy signing elsewhere, but they have enough depth to remain solid there I think.

Secondary is elite.

Special teams are elite, if Ghost returns. If not, they're still a strength.

The team, if it gets even semi-competent play from the QB, should still be decent. If it gets good play from the QB, it will be good. If it gets essentially a rookie performance from Stidham, they'll struggle, unless they morph into a defense-and-running game style of team that manages to win a lot of 17-13 games.
 

BigSoxFan

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Offensive line is going to be great, assuming good health. That will make things on offense MUCH easier.

Running back is fine. I like the stable of backs they have.

Tight end is a disaster.

Wide receiver might be better than people think, but definitely not a strength.

Defensive line should be fine. Not outstanding, but fine.

Linebackers took a huge hit with Collins and Van Noy signing elsewhere, but they have enough depth to remain solid there I think.

Secondary is elite.

Special teams are elite, if Ghost returns. If not, they're still a strength.

The team, if it gets even semi-competent play from the QB, should still be decent. If it gets good play from the QB, it will be good. If it gets essentially a rookie performance from Stidham, they'll struggle, unless they morph into a defense-and-running game style of team that manages to win a lot of 17-13 games.
Going to be very challenging for Stidham and stripped down D to compete against a first place schedule. But I am very interested to see what the Pats can accomplish. A 9-7 type season may be achievable.
 

EL Jeffe

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TE is definitely a disaster and I'm not sure they can really upgrade it. The TE draft class is weak and money is tight for FA (I still like Ebron, but I'm not sure the money is there). Barring a trade or a quality signing (like Ebron), I wonder if the Patriots rework their offense and get a bit more creative. TE was a net negative last year (as was the WR corps outside Jules). Maybe some 20 personnel (Sony, Develin, 3 WRs...Jules, Sanu, Harry) and 10 personnel (White, 4 WRs)? I don't think you can run a TE out there just for the sake of having one on the field.

I do think Sanu will be better coming off the ankle surgery. Harry will get better (I think his ceiling is low for a 1st round WR, but still). Those two are better players than Izzo or LaCosse. There are very good WR prospects in this draft (SMU has done great work outlining them in the draft forum) that can likely contribute as rookies. I'd like to see McDaniels get a little creative. I think they'll have to.
 

E5 Yaz

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Going to be very challenging for Stidham and stripped down D to compete against a first place schedule. But I am very interested to see what the Pats can accomplish. A 9-7 type season may be achievable.
Not to mention that the three other teams in their aren't likely to give the Patriots 5-6 wins this season.Bills made the playoffs, Jets rebounded from the disastrous start to go 7-9 and the Dolphins started putting it together in the second half. Start at think 3-3, with anything more being a bonus.
 

Mooch

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Bears just released Leonard Floyd - 9th overall pick back in 2015 who has been a reliable (if somewhat disappointing) starting OLB. Would certainly fill a hole with Van Noy and Collins leaving.
 

Cellar-Door

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Bears just released Leonard Floyd - 9th overall pick back in 2015 who has been a reliable (if somewhat disappointing) starting OLB. Would certainly fill a hole with Van Noy and Collins leaving.
I came here intending to post almost exactly this.
 

nattysez

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The Titans released old friend Dion Lewis. I wonder if he'd have interest in a one-year deal to see if he can land one last big contract. He's 30, so time is running out. On the plus side, he barely played last year because of Henry, so he's fresh.

If you're going to install a dink-and-dunk office with lots of checkdowns for Stidham, it'd be nice to have Dion back.
 

Mooch

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The Titans released old friend Dion Lewis. I wonder if he'd have interest in a one-year deal to see if he can land one last big contract. He's 30, so time is running out. On the plus side, he barely played last year because of Henry, so he's fresh.

If you're going to install a dink-and-dunk office with lots of checkdowns for Stidham, it'd be nice to have Dion back.
That would be a lot of redundancy with White and Burkhead, wouldn't it?
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I think its useful to take a step back and think about the big picture, then make roster decisions based on a strategy for dealing with that situation. For me, the big picture is this:

1) The Patriots aren't going to be truly competitive before 2022 at the earliest. There is no QB and not enough young talent.
2) Finding a QB is obviously critical to any meaningful longer term improvement.
3) BB only has so many years left and probably won't have much patience for losing.

To me, the best strategy is going to be one that tries to trade off 2020 win expectation in favor of 2021 and beyond win expectation. I would trade Thuney for the best offer we can generate. I would put Gilmore on the block and do the same. And I would roll with Stidham at QB.
 

BaseballJones

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The Titans just went to the AFCCG with a good but not great defense, a dynamic running game, and a mediocre QB who got red hot for the last half of the season but who did virtually nothing in the playoffs.

It's very possible to be "truly competitive" with decent QB play, a good running game (which the Pats, with a great OL and solid RBs, should have), excellent special teams, and a great defense. If they shore up LB after Van Noy and Collins' departures, the D should be outstanding again, and so it really comes down to the QB play, I think.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The Titans just went to the AFCCG with a good but not great defense, a dynamic running game, and a mediocre QB who got red hot for the last half of the season but who did virtually nothing in the playoffs.

It's very possible to be "truly competitive" with decent QB play, a good running game (which the Pats, with a great OL and solid RBs, should have), excellent special teams, and a great defense. If they shore up LB after Van Noy and Collins' departures, the D should be outstanding again, and so it really comes down to the QB play, I think.
OK, its extremely unlikely that the Patriots will be "truly competitive" before 2022. There really isn't a lot of talent on offense and the defense is aging.

I don't want to make a plan based on how if the stars align perfectly then maybe we can luck our way into the AFC championship game and get stomped by the Ravens or Chiefs.
 
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I think the master plan was actually previewed two years ago down the stretch - dominant running game, competent game management from the QB, and an opportunistic, smart D. I would imagine that was also the plan for last year, but injuries to the line and the fullback sunk us. If they end up keeping Thuney rather than trading him, this would be a good indication that the plan remains the same.
 

Super Nomario

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I think the master plan was actually previewed two years ago down the stretch - dominant running game, competent game management from the QB, and an opportunistic, smart D. I would imagine that was also the plan for last year, but injuries to the line and the fullback sunk us. If they end up keeping Thuney rather than trading him, this would be a good indication that the plan remains the same.
The run game was not nearly as dominant in 2018 as commonly believed, and it was failing last year even before injuries struck (Michel had 15 carries for 14 yards in Week 1 with Develin and Wynn). When you run a lot, you ask the QB to do a lot of heavy lifting on 3rd down when defenses know you're passing. Brady was up for that, we'll see on Stidham. I'm pretty skeptical of ground-and-pound offenses in the modern NFL, especially without a dynamic running threat at QB.
 
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The run game was not nearly as dominant in 2018 as commonly believed, and it was failing last year even before injuries struck (Michel had 15 carries for 14 yards in Week 1 with Develin and Wynn). When you run a lot, you ask the QB to do a lot of heavy lifting on 3rd down when defenses know you're passing. Brady was up for that, we'll see on Stidham. I'm pretty skeptical of ground-and-pound offenses in the modern NFL, especially without a dynamic running threat at QB.
They averaged 178 yards rushing from the 2nd Buffalo game through the SB. I am not claiming that they will be able to replicate that in 2020, to be clear, but I would imagine that a Tennessee-style approach is their best path to being competitive.
 

Super Nomario

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They averaged 178 yards rushing from the 2nd Buffalo game through the SB.
Yes, but
- In two of those games (the Buffalo one and the SB), the offense was not good
- In two of those games (NYJ and LAC), they had big leads early (largely through passing / D) so they wound up running a ton with averageish efficiency
- similarly, while they ran a ton against the Chiefs, it wasn't particularly efficient. The damage was done through the air.

It's great if they can run the ball well, especially if they can salt the game away once they have a lead, but as a driver for the offense, I'm skeptical.

I would imagine that a Tennessee-style approach is their best path to being competitive.
The Titans only went 9-7 in 2019, and their offensive success corresponded with a passing change (Tannehill for Mariota). Henry ran just about as efficiently in 2018 (4.9 vs 5.1) and they finished 27th in points because they couldn't pass.
 
Aug 1, 2015
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Yes, but
- In two of those games (the Buffalo one and the SB), the offense was not good
- In two of those games (NYJ and LAC), they had big leads early (largely through passing / D) so they wound up running a ton with averageish efficiency
- similarly, while they ran a ton against the Chiefs, it wasn't particularly efficient. The damage was done through the air.

It's great if they can run the ball well, especially if they can salt the game away once they have a lead, but as a driver for the offense, I'm skeptical.


The Titans only went 9-7 in 2019, and their offensive success corresponded with a passing change (Tannehill for Mariota). Henry ran just about as efficiently in 2018 (4.9 vs 5.1) and they finished 27th in points because they couldn't pass.
No argument with any of this. I am not claiming that we will ride Sony for 150 YPG and go 12-4. But, given the makeup of the current roster, the strengths are likely to be (1) the secondary and (2) the OL. I think we will lean into this while we develop the next phase of the franchise via the draft, shrewd free agent pickups, etc. Best case is 2001, worst case is we are all out apple picking come early October.
 

j-man

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best case 9-7 fighting with Buffalo for the div worse case 6-10 with no juiles after 2020 might be in tampa in 2021

unless u can get lighting in a bottle with a young QB bill b will need 6 years to pass shula my q is is mr kraft ok with 6 8-8 9-7 type rec for bill to get shula rec if i was kraft under 500 in 2020 means i wouild trade up to get trevor lawrence and fire bill and rebuild around josh and trevor
 

Salem's Lot

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best case 9-7 fighting with Buffalo for the div worse case 6-10 with no juiles after 2020 might be in tampa in 2021

unless u can get lighting in a bottle with a young QB bill b will need 6 years to pass shula my q is is mr kraft ok with 6 8-8 9-7 type rec for bill to get shula rec if i was kraft under 500 in 2020 means i wouild trade up to get trevor lawrence and fire bill and rebuild around josh and trevor
Kraft is not firing Belichick for .500 seasons after Brady until at least 2025. And at that point he’d probably retire anyway.
 

Rico Guapo

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Do you people really think BB didn't have a plan in case Brady signed elsewhere? The roster was flawed last year, they're rebuilding on the fly particularly on offense, they probably weren't going to be that good in 2020 even if Brady HAD stuck around at a reasonable cap number. Relax and enjoy the ride, who knows, maybe they'll surprise us with an 11-5 regular season and a playoff run.
 

BunnzMcGinty

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I just don’t see a scenario where Kraft fires Belichick.
Agreed.
-Took the team to 9 Super Bowls, won 6
-won the division 16 times
-hasn’t missed the playoffs in 12 years
-hasn’t had a losing record in 19 years

I think BB earned himself all the leeway he could ever ask for, and I’m pretty confident that he won’t need all of it.
 

nighthob

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This year will undoubtedly suck as they develop Stidham and the draft picks and clear the dead money off the cap. But ‘21 will be a better year with a clean cap, a QB on rookie scale, and a credit for Brown. They aren’t going to be a .500 team for five years, that’s just crazy talk.
 

j-man

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This year will undoubtedly suck as they develop Stidham and the draft picks and clear the dead money off the cap. But ‘21 will be a better year with a clean cap, a QB on rookie scale, and a credit for Brown. They aren’t going to be a .500 team for five years, that’s just crazy talk.
to win without brady u must draft betther if u draft betther u are right
 

Super Nomario

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This year will undoubtedly suck as they develop Stidham and the draft picks and clear the dead money off the cap. But ‘21 will be a better year with a clean cap, a QB on rookie scale, and a credit for Brown. They aren’t going to be a .500 team for five years, that’s just crazy talk.
You realize there are teams that go years without a .500 season, right? Half the teams finish below .500 every year. We are in the uncertain position of having zero idea what to expect from the quarterback position. If Stidham is Jimmy G 2.0, your optimism is warranted. If he's Kevin O'Connell or Rohan Davey or Ryan Mallett or Jacoby Brissett, things could get pretty ugly.
 

DJnVa

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You realize there are teams that go years without a .500 season, right?
You realize that only 1 NFL team has gone the last 5 years with a record under .500 every season, right?

So yeah, saying the Patriots won't be under .500 for 5 straight years is not crazy talk, unless you think they're about to turn into the Browns.
 

Super Nomario

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You realize that only 1 NFL team has gone the last 5 years with a record under .500 every season, right?

So yeah, saying the Patriots won't be under .500 for 5 straight years is not crazy talk, unless you think they're about to turn into the Browns.
I'm not saying they're going to finish under .500 every season, I'm just saying it's hard winning in the NFL and you can't consider going .500 for five years a floor for any team that has no proven QB option.
 

jmanny24

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You realize that only 1 NFL team has gone the last 5 years with a record under .500 every season, right?

So yeah, saying the Patriots won't be under .500 for 5 straight years is not crazy talk, unless you think they're about to turn into the Browns.
Well in fairness, they do now have a former Browns coach who no longer has the GOAT at the most important position on the field. So at least, wait and see?
 

bakahump

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Mattys P whole NE Mid America Plan would be alot better if he had also signed Brady.
 

Captaincoop

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I'm not saying they're going to finish under .500 every season, I'm just saying it's hard winning in the NFL and you can't consider going .500 for five years a floor for any team that has no proven QB option.
The Patriots have fantastic, stable, ownership, and the greatest coach in the history of the sport. They're not going. 500 for five years as long as Belichick is on the sideline and has his wits about him.
 

nighthob

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You realize there are teams that go years without a .500 season, right? Half the teams finish below .500 every year. We are in the uncertain position of having zero idea what to expect from the quarterback position. If Stidham is Jimmy G 2.0, your optimism is warranted. If he's Kevin O'Connell or Rohan Davey or Ryan Mallett or Jacoby Brissett, things could get pretty ugly.
If Stidham even reaches average NFL production then the rookie scale contract makes it easier for them to stock up elsewhere. I think we can trust the current management to rebuild the team into a winning one, even if they won’t ever return to this previous 20 year stretch where their average result was a 12-4 season and at least one playoff win.
 

BaseballJones

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If Stidham even reaches average NFL production then the rookie scale contract makes it easier for them to stock up elsewhere. I think we can trust the current management to rebuild the team into a winning one, even if they won’t ever return to this previous 20 year stretch where their average result was a 12-4 season and at least one playoff win.
We will never ever see again what the Pats accomplished from 2001-2019. Never. That's not where the normal bar should be set. It should be set where it is for other teams: competing for the division title every year, winning it occasionally (and during some periods maybe a few years in a row) and every handful of years maybe putting it together to make a legit run at a SB title.
 

DourDoerr

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It seems much more likely now that the Pats will trade down from that 1st round pick. Going for it now made a lot of sense with a 43yo Brady at the helm and a blue chipper at a position of need would be more of a priority. Now that the urgency is gone, I'd expect BB to revert to his earlier tendencies of trading down and getting multiple chances at good players.
 

Super Nomario

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If Stidham even reaches average NFL production then the rookie scale contract makes it easier for them to stock up elsewhere. I think we can trust the current management to rebuild the team into a winning one, even if they won’t ever return to this previous 20 year stretch where their average result was a 12-4 season and at least one playoff win.
Sure, but I think people are way overestimating the likelihood of that "if." Most young QBs stink. I loved what I saw from him in the preseason last year, but realistically there is no floor to how bad Stidham might be, and no telling how long it might take to find average QB production.
 

nighthob

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Sure, but I think people are way overestimating the likelihood of that "if." Most young QBs stink. I loved what I saw from him in the preseason last year, but realistically there is no floor to how bad Stidham might be, and no telling how long it might take to find average QB production.
I don’t disagree with this, just the notion that they’ll never be able to find an average QB again. They do have a track record in recent years of developing QBs, from the decent (Jimmy G) to the merely cromulent (Brissett). But with even a cromulent young QB they should be able to upgrade elsewhere across the roster starting in ‘21 and start winning 9-11 games a year.
 

Super Nomario

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I don’t disagree with this, just the notion that they’ll never be able to find an average QB again. They do have a track record in recent years of developing QBs, from the decent (Jimmy G) to the merely cromulent (Brissett). But with even a cromulent young QB they should be able to upgrade elsewhere across the roster starting in ‘21 and start winning 9-11 games a year.
I'm not saying they'll never find one, it just might take a few spins of the wheel, in which case Belichick might have retired and Kraft largely stepped down.

Indy has some pretty smart management and they've won 11 games in two years with Brissett starting. Winning 9-11 games a year is hard, really really hard without excellent QB play. It's expensive to keep multi-player units together and hard to keep restocking them. Quality QB play is by far the easiest road to sustained success.
 

5dice

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I'm not saying they'll never find one, it just might take a few spins of the wheel, in which case Belichick might have retired and Kraft largely stepped down.
Leaving Steve Belichick and Jonathan Kraft. Not sure what Robert Kraft brings to football ops at this point that Jonathan doesn't, especially with his "son" Brady out of the picture.
 

nighthob

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I'm not saying they'll never find one, it just might take a few spins of the wheel, in which case Belichick might have retired and Kraft largely stepped down.

Indy has some pretty smart management and they've won 11 games in two years with Brissett starting. Winning 9-11 games a year is hard, really really hard without excellent QB play. It's expensive to keep multi-player units together and hard to keep restocking them. Quality QB play is by far the easiest road to sustained success.
Brissett, who checks the cromulent box, was 7-8 last year. I agree that next year is far more likely to look like Brissett's year getting dropped in the fire in Indy (I mean I did start by granting that next year's going to suck), but if they do go 5-11 (which is not an unreasonable prediction given the dead cap figure, the first place schedule, and everyone's desire for revenge for the Brady era) that just means tons of draft capital to fill out the roster with young, cost-controlled help.
 

EL Jeffe

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2017 was a particularly brutal draft class in New England (essentially UDFA Adam Butler and Wise). 2018 wasn't much better; Wynn has looked good when available, Sony is a below average starting RB (YMMV), Bentley looks okay as a rotational ILB, UDFA JC Jackson has been the most valuable performer. Jury is out on 2019, I'm more bullish than most but time will tell. That catches up to you eventually.
 

joe dokes

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Do you people really think BB didn't have a plan in case Brady signed elsewhere? The roster was flawed last year, they're rebuilding on the fly particularly on offense, they probably weren't going to be that good in 2020 even if Brady HAD stuck around at a reasonable cap number. Relax and enjoy the ride, who knows, maybe they'll surprise us with an 11-5 regular season and a playoff run.
Not just BB, but McD as well.