2021 Pats: Looking Ahead – Roster Planning

ShaneTrot

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And yet he still had more receiving yards in 6 games than N'Keal Harry had all season!
I keep seeing think pieces (Tom Curran has definitely said this) in which writers say that Harry won't be on the team next year. I think it would be ludicrous to give up on him after this year. Am I crazy?
 

Super Nomario

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I keep seeing think pieces (Tom Curran has definitely said this) in which writers say that Harry won't be on the team next year. I think it would be ludicrous to give up on him after this year. Am I crazy?
It makes no sense to give up on him before camp next year, but if they add a bunch of guys in FA / the draft, he wouldn't be a shocking cut. Chad Jackson was gone after two seasons; he was only taken four picks later than Harry was.

It's amazing to me how much I have soured on the Pats pending free agents. I love Thuney but he may be too expensive. If Andrews leaves, I trust them to find a repalcement.
Andrews strikes me as more irreplaceable, just given the lack of C depth. The Patriots had three different players play C this season - Andrews, Thuney, and James Ferentz - and they're all FA, and 4th C option Hjalte Froholdt was waived weeks ago. I expect Andrews back; they don't usually go outside the org for OL, and C is a tough ask of a rookie.
 

Saints Rest

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I think this is a good way of thinking about it. I will add that this particular year, there is no one standout edge rusher, so they might get their pick at 15. They also might get their pick at CB, or close to it, a position they value pretty highly (and one that, while not a major need for 2021, figures to be one shortly thereafter given Gilmore's contract status).
I think the other factor for BB is that I think he rates players based on more global comparisons than simply "best player available still on the board." This is why he will trade down so often. If he gets to 15 and doesn't see anyone who he thinks is a 15, he'll trade down. OTOH, if he sees someone available at say, 12, who he rates a 10, he might trade up.

It's been a long time, since the Pats were picking in the teens, but their track record has been excellent:
  • Ty Warren 13
  • Nate Solder 17
And expanding a bit wider in each direction:
  • Jerod Mayo 10
  • Chandler Jones 21
  • Ben Watson 21
  • Laurence Maroney 21
  • Vince Wilfork 21
 

Cellar-Door

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I keep seeing think pieces (Tom Curran has definitely said this) in which writers say that Harry won't be on the team next year. I think it would be ludicrous to give up on him after this year. Am I crazy?
Unless it was a trade I don't see why they would get rid of him, it costs more to cut him than to keep him, and they'd have to add a lot of bodies to the WR room to have a roster crunch.
One thing I do wonder is.... could we see him moved to become a TE/WR hybrid?
 

Super Nomario

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I think the other factor for BB is that I think he rates players based on more global comparisons than simply "best player available still on the board." This is why he will trade down so often. If he gets to 15 and doesn't see anyone who he thinks is a 15, he'll trade down. OTOH, if he sees someone available at say, 12, who he rates a 10, he might trade up.

It's been a long time, since the Pats were picking in the teens, but their track record has been excellent:
  • Ty Warren 13
  • Nate Solder 17
And expanding a bit wider in each direction:
  • Jerod Mayo 10
  • Chandler Jones 21
  • Ben Watson 21
  • Laurence Maroney 21
  • Vince Wilfork 21
I think you're thinking of Daniel Graham, not Watson (Watson was 32nd).

Holley talks about it in one of the books, but basically they zero in on certain guys they want throughout the draft and then figure out where they need to take them. So in 2010, they really wanted McCourty but assessed that the NFL saw him as a 2nd-rounder, so they traded back from 22 to 24 and then 24 to 27 and took him there (they had another opportunity to trade back but decided not to chance it with the NYJ also likely looking CB).

So I think what they do at 15 comes down to who they zero in on and where they think they need to get to take him. That's not necessarily the same as "value" in the way you describe.
 

ShaneTrot

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It makes no sense to give up on him before camp next year, but if they add a bunch of guys in FA / the draft, he wouldn't be a shocking cut. Chad Jackson was gone after two seasons; he was only taken four picks later than Harry was.
The Jackson pick gets shit on but he was never really healthy and he tore his ACL at the end of the 2006 season. I still believe Harry can be better. He just never seems to run with abandon once he has the ball for such a big guy.
 

Captaincoop

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I keep seeing think pieces (Tom Curran has definitely said this) in which writers say that Harry won't be on the team next year. I think it would be ludicrous to give up on him after this year. Am I crazy?
I'll be really surprised and really disappointed if he's on the roster at the start of the 2021 regular season. He has shown nothing to indicate he's worth a roster spot, he's a sunk cost.
 

Harry Hooper

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I keep seeing think pieces (Tom Curran has definitely said this) in which writers say that Harry won't be on the team next year. I think it would be ludicrous to give up on him after this year. Am I crazy?
He's been cut back to limited duty as the 3rd WR. He played more in the last game because Byrd was knocked out. You should be disappointed if new players at WR & TE (plus maybe Edelman returning) don't have Harry absolutely clawing for a roster spot in camp next year.

I wish Harry would go work with Bob Kersee in the offseason as Ty Law did.
 
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NJ_Sox_Fan

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Pretty sad that literally any WR listed on the FA List is a far better option than anyone on the team.
 

BaseballJones

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I think the other factor for BB is that I think he rates players based on more global comparisons than simply "best player available still on the board." This is why he will trade down so often. If he gets to 15 and doesn't see anyone who he thinks is a 15, he'll trade down. OTOH, if he sees someone available at say, 12, who he rates a 10, he might trade up.

It's been a long time, since the Pats were picking in the teens, but their track record has been excellent:
  • Ty Warren 13
  • Nate Solder 17
And expanding a bit wider in each direction:
  • Jerod Mayo 10
  • Chandler Jones 21
  • Ben Watson 21
  • Laurence Maroney 21
  • Vince Wilfork 21
I saw a mock draft that had NE taking an excellent LT with their first round pick. And the comment was: BB will take a really good player here; it just might not be a player at a position Pats' fans want him to pick.
 

Super Nomario

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I saw a mock draft that had NE taking an excellent LT with their first round pick. And the comment was: BB will take a really good player here; it just might not be a player at a position Pats' fans want him to pick.
Probably Phil Perry's: https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/patriots/2021-nfl-mock-draft-patriots-miss-out-first-round-quarterback

He has the Pats taking Virginia Tech LT Christian Darrisaw, who has experience at LT and RT. @SMU_Sox is a big fan, too.
 

DJnVa

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Unless I'm misreading it, the WFT would have to carry Alex Smith's nearly $11M in dead cap hit and pay Cam $20+ million?

That doesn't sound smart, but they will have some cap space.
 

ShaneTrot

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I hate to say this but besides Andrews and maybe Adam Butler and a few of the cheap special teams guys, I am OK with every other Pats UFA leaving. Thuney is going to be too expensive and I love James White but someone will pay him too much.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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First off, thank you, @RedOctober3829

Let's look at who they have on the roster next year: Harris, Sony, Bolden, and JJ Taylor.
2022: Harris, Sony if they activate his 5th year option worth around 4m, Taylor.

With White and Rex as UFA's this year and Bolden set to leave after 2021 (He will be 33 in 2022) they are going to lose their veteran leadership as well as 2 STers and all around backs in Bolden and Rex. White is an incredible receiving back/3rd down back.

I see them needing 2-4 types of backs: 1) White is getting older/is-an-UFA and they need to draft another receiving back. 2) They could also use an outside runner, a faster runner - someone who can run outside zone or off-tackle well. 3) STer with an all-around skill-set. Or STer with a specific skill-set. 4) a between the tackles runner to replace Sony. Sony has one year left on the team.

2 and 4 are the easiest to project to the next level.
There is overlap between skills and some backs will be in more than one category.

Here are the backs in the draft that would fill those roles. I have 5-10 backs to go.

1 - the receiving/receiver down back:
1) Demetric Felton - He runs routes like a WR. He has sick double moves, fakes, and overall deception in his routes is excellent. He can run outside zone but at 185 pounds he isn't a between the tackles guy. His pass pro also suffers because of his size. He is a better receiver and route runner than Davis but Davis is an overall better runner and in pass pro.
2a) Pooka Williams
2b) Malik Davis


2 - the outside zone/faster back:
1) Michael Carter - I have been beating the drum for him for a while now. He is the perfect compliment to Harris' inside prowess.
2) Kenneth Gainwell - He is a mini-Etienne. Home-run threat. His vision is iffy and he is only 190.
3) Malik Davis
4) Jermar Jefferson
5) Pooka Willianms
6) Javian Hawkins

3 - all - around back and/or STer:
1) Keaontay Ingram - patient with good vision. Nice cuts. Has an issue with his hands as a receiver
2) Chuba Hubbard (Hubbard's receiving skills and pass pro are... well undeveloped or poor). He has some of the best decision making and vision I have seen. He can run any scheme. However he is a little light at 206, he isn't a super athlete and his complimentary skills are lacking. I had to put him somewhere though.
3) Trey Sermon
4) Jaret Patterson - reminds me of a slightly more athletic Devin Singeltary.
5) Kylin Hill
6) Max Borghi
7) Rakeem Boyd

4 - the inside runner:
1a) Zamir White - Reminds me of Harris' with the way he can attack guys downhill and bulldoze them.
1b) Master Teague - best pass-pro of all runners. Inside the tackles power runner like Zamir White.
3) JaTarvious Whitlow
4) Khalil Herbert
5) C.J. Verdell
6) Mohammed Ibrahim
7) Kennedy Brooks
8) Stephen Carr


I don't think they take a starting back so I am not going to include Travis Etienne, Najee Harris, and Javonte Williams. Etienne is not a between the tackles runner unless it is gap/power. Etienne is an outside zone or gap/power only runner. Harris is scheme versatile and is probably the best all around back in the class. He routinely lines up out wide too. Javonte Williams is a riser. He is also scheme versatile but would excel between the tackles where he can use his power.


EDIT: TL;DR: If I had to pick 2 I would take an outside guy Michael Carter (HM Kenneth Gainwell), and a receiver-RB, Demetric Felton. Felton is definitely going to be available day 3 and probably late (he might even be a UDFA). Carter might need to be taken sometime in round 3. Impossible to know now - going off of what I am hearing from NFL-tied to guys.
If Malik Davis can fill the role of receiving back and outside runner, doesnt it make sense to draft him?
 

SMU_Sox

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If Malik Davis can fill the role of receiving back and outside runner, doesn't it make sense to draft him?
I am not sure he will have a draftable grade. The problem is I only have access to 3 of his games and like 40-50 snaps total. I saw carries against lighter boxes as a rotational guy. He hasn't recovered his form from his freshman year and has a history of injuries. He's more of a project rotational back most likely. Just eyeballing him he is roughly the same size and speed as White. He has a lot in common with White including going down too often on first contact. But he also flashes and he has some good short area quickness, wiggle, and elusiveness. Runs more routes than the avg. college RB and runs them well. Pass pro is a work in progress. He will probably be a UDFA.

I still think Michael Carter is the better bet and they have 3 fourth round picks.

I want them to add someone like Toney or Amari Rodgers who can be used in that Deebo Samuel gadget/RAC type of receiver/jet-sweep/schemed-touches-screens-etc role. Are you really worried about Meyers as a runner when he's in motion? No. But if Toney or Rodgers is you better be paying attention because they have the kind of speed to take it to the house quickly. A guy like Curtis Samuel would be such a useful tool if they want the FA version of those guys.

Quick edit: I still have to see Larry Roundtree - heard he might be of interest.
 
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soxhop411

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View: https://twitter.com/MarkDanielsPJ/status/1347557265553973248
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They need to start drug testing my coworkers.

Eric Rueb

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If the rumors of DeShaun Watson's unhappiness in Houston are true, the Patriots should do everything possible to acquire him. Including trading Bill Belichick, a deal that would make more sense than you'd actually think. https://providencejournal.com/story/sports/nfl/patriots/2021/01/08/would-patriots-give-up-everything-try-and-trade-deshaun-watson/6584151002/

 

BusRaker

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Could BB the GM technically trade BB the HC? I'm going to say aside from the obvious cloning problem, the league has rules regarding working for multiple teams simultaneously
 

Harry Hooper

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Maybe Schefter with that talk about Newton's next contract was doing an extreme favor for the agent?
 

Harry Hooper

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Cap-strapped teams will have to make some cuts, but the real opportunity might be trading guys like Winovich for close to Pro Bowl-caliber player upgrades
 

Cellar-Door

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Looking at some possible cut candidates on various lists online, it appears there will be plenty of help available at DT in particular.
I would guess Grady Jarrett will be available for Trade, likely not at a high cost, ATL is gonna be way over the cap and he's the player that can save them the most cap in a trade.
 

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I imagine that this offseason may look a bit like 2000-2001, with a bunch of signings of cast-off vets who still have mileage left, and 2007, when Bill tries to scoop up a couple WR's. In the latter case, I wonder if Odell is this year's Randy Moss.
 

BaseballJones

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Diggs: 127 rec, 1,535 yds, 8 td

He wouldn't have come CLOSE to that kind of production with the 2020 Patriots. And if he had only had, say, 65 receptions for 900 yards and 4 touchdowns (given Cam's passing ability these seem about right), everyone would have said what a terrible trade for the Patriots, given what they would have to have given up to get him.
 

BigSoxFan

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Diggs: 127 rec, 1,535 yds, 8 td

He wouldn't have come CLOSE to that kind of production with the 2020 Patriots. And if he had only had, say, 65 receptions for 900 yards and 4 touchdowns (given Cam's passing ability these seem about right), everyone would have said what a terrible trade for the Patriots, given what they would have to have given up to get him.
It would have made sense if Brady were in the fold or potentially able to be convinced to stay. Not so much of you’re starting a rebuild. Really is too bad that Hopkins and Diggs freed up right as Brady was on his way out.
 

Mystic Merlin

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I doubt it. Brady has said he knew he was leaving before the season, and why would a Diggs trade have caused him to make a 180? From what I recall the Tampa thing was a done deal by that point, absent the formal announcement that took place a day after he said he wasn’t returning to NE.
 

Harry Hooper

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I doubt it. Brady has said he knew he was leaving before the season, and why would a Diggs trade have caused him to make a 180? From what I recall the Tampa thing was a done deal by that point, absent the formal announcement that took place a day after he said he wasn’t returning to NE.
Yes, Tom wasn't coming back without at least a 2-year contract.
 

ehaz

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So, Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and Kenny Golladay are all FAs. I don't follow cap stuff, but the Pats have plenty of room. Is it enough to go after one of the top WRs in FA + swing a trade for one of the possible QB trade targets (say, Jimmy, Stafford, or as a pipe-dream theoretically, Watson)? And would we expect BB to make a play for a top FA WR in this market?

Something like A-Rob + Stafford would completely transform this team. Spending all that cap on two players will make it tougher to fill the many other holes on this roster, but BB has a history of being acquire and develop defense and o-line talent with limited resources before...
 

Garshaparra

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Which almost certainly impacted BB’s decision when offered Diggs.
The Diggs trade was contingent on a new contract, which the Patriots (in cap hell) could not have afforded, especially with also needing to re-sign Brady to make it work. The Pats were likely no more than a stalking horse to the Bills to raise the contract terms.
 

rodderick

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The Diggs trade was contingent on a new contract, which the Patriots (in cap hell) could not have afforded, especially with also needing to re-sign Brady to make it work. The Pats were likely no more than a stalking horse to the Bills to raise the contract terms.
What cap hell? They would've been under the cap without any opt outs and ended up having the third highest cap space in football after guys opted out and are 60 million under for next year. Diggs had a 12 milion cap hit this season, and that's after the Bills restructured his contract to pay him more money up front. They absolutely could have re-signed Brady and brought in Diggs. Probably would've had to sacrifice some guys like Thuney and the McCourtys in the process, but I make that exchange every time. But as people pointed out earlier, it's a moot point because Brady wasn't coming back (and I don't think he would've returned even if they offered him the Tampa deal).
 

tims4wins

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What cap hell? They would've been under the cap without any opt outs and ended up having the third highest cap space in football after guys opted out and are 60 million under for next year. Diggs had a 12 milion cap hit this season, and that's after the Bills restructured his contract to pay him more money up front. They absolutely could have re-signed Brady and brought in Diggs. Probably would've had to sacrifice some guys like Thuney and the McCourtys in the process, but I make that exchange every time. But as people pointed out earlier, it's a moot point because Brady wasn't coming back (and I don't think he would've returned even if they offered him the Tampa deal).
This is unequivocally untrue. They had no cap room prior to the opt outs. Look at every article from last spring.
 

rodderick

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This is unequivocally untrue. They had no cap room prior to the opt outs. Look at every article from last spring.
There was plenty of ways they could have made up cap space if they wanted to fit Brady and Diggs in. And even still, a single season (if they had no opt outs) of no cap room followed by 40 million in cap space in 2021 (assuming nothing to roll over) isn't anything close to what I'd describe as cap hell.
 

Bowhemian

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There was plenty of ways they could have made up cap space if they wanted to fit Brady and Diggs in. And even still, a single season (if they had no opt outs) of no cap room followed by 40 million in cap space in 2021 (assuming nothing to roll over) isn't anything close to what I'd describe as cap hell.
They could have created cap space, but they would again have been kicking the can down the road. *BB decided to take a hit this past season in order to regroup and rebuild going forward.

*My assumption
 

rodderick

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They could have created cap space, but they would again have been kicking the can down the road. *BB decided to take a hit this past season in order to regroup and rebuild going forward.

*My assumption
Which is perfectly fine. But as in everything involving roster construction: it's a choice. I don't buy the "cap is crap" theory, at one point the bill comes due, but I think that scenario looks a lot more like the 2021 Saints and Eagles than the 2020 Patriots. Once again, this specific discussion is moot because Brady wasn't coming back anyway, but if he wanted to be back and Belichick wanted him to be here paired with Diggs, they 100% had ways to make that happen, even prior to the opt outs. That's all I'm saying.
 

DJnVa

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it's a choice. I don't buy the "cap is crap" theory, at one point the bill comes due, but I think that scenario looks a lot more like the 2021 Saints and Eagles than the 2020 Patriots.
What do you mean here? The Eagles were worse than the Patriots this year and that's before they get to 2021 cap hell. They could be a dumpster fire. And while the Saints were good this year, their 2021 could look very similar to the 2020 Pats, at least record-wise, if Brees is gone.