The New England Patriots are in disarray. Crashing out to long-standing AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills, in the Wild Card round just doesn’t cut it. The fans expect more given the legacy and dynasty Bill Belichick created. There are numerous Patriots offseason needs to be addressed in 2022.
Patriots Offseason Needs 2022
New England faces some big decisions in free agency and on the trade market.
The elephant in the room is the absence of Tom Brady. From 2001 to 2019, the Patriots simply didn’t have to worry about quarterback depth or acquisition. Brady for the most part has been the best in the NFL and is still in that conversation now. A direct replacement is simply not possible given his quality and tenure at the franchise. The Patriots’ offseason plan must however include strengthening the surgeon’s general role. Mac Jones has been a fine addition, but for all his successes in the NCAA, this is the NFL.
His stats and performance generally ranked him in the middle of the pack for quarterbacks in the league. ESPN ranked him as the 13th best QB in the league in 2021. Not poor for a rookie year but alarms must be raised if Jones is going to live up to the franchise expectations.
Belichick may be trying to sculpt the ‘next Brady’ by taking a young quarterback, putting faith in him with a long-term vision in mind. Yet even when Brady was brought in he had Drew Bledsoe behind him. The 1993 number one pick was able to shift in when needed and offer the experience to the upstart QB. The current roster doesn’t offer such quality variation. Brian Hoyer might be a storied player but has played just 10 games in the last three seasons (starting only two). Jones needs a quality mentor and a stand-in going forward.
The Patriots receiving game has seldom been bad, it’s simply that it rarely bears touchdown fruit. Throughout the regular season, the team averaged 11.3 yards per reception. Overall, 4,098 yards were made. Again, not bad, just not the Patriots’ quality that is expected. By comparison, Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers threw 5,383 yards in 2021.
Damien Harris amassed 937 rushing yards throughout the season. That’s enough for the tenth-most in the league, sandwiching him between Derrick Henry and Melvin Gordon. Yet both arguably had more prolific seasons than Harris. Rhamondre Stevenson played the Wild Card round game against the Bills with relative success. He secured 27 yards in the game against the Bills, we all know how that worked out.
While the Patriots are not terrible at passing or rushing, they’re not prolific at either. They scored the same amount of touchdowns through both methods (24). It pays to be versatile, but not when you’re mediocre at both. It points the finger at a lack of a distinct game plan from Belichick. The Buccaneers, Rams and Packers all achieved two or three more reception touchdowns than rush TDs. All three of those franchises are in the divisional round, a clear indication of the necessity to receive the ball better.
A large amount of time and effort should be considered on a wide receiver in the New England Patriots roster spending in the 2022 offseason.
Around $12,400,000 is left in the cap space, which gives the franchise a fair punt at some interesting free agents. Davante Adams’ departure from the Packers could be the gem of 2022 free agency for the Patriots, yet he’ll be highly sought after. Sammy Watkins, A.J. Green and T.Y. Hilton are all possible options with expiring contracts too.
In the draft, Garrett Wilson, Jameson Wilson and Chris Olave will all be worth monitoring yet with the overall 21st pick, these options could all have long gone by the time they get on the clock. In addition, given the inexperienced QB, it’d be really helpful for Jones to have someone not quite as green picking up his passes as he sculpts out his career at Gillette Stadium.