Sunday 7: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski part of conversation with Patriots’ lack of offseason buzz

Ryan Hannable
March 17, 2019 - 8:31 am
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1. Through the first week of NFL free agency, the Patriots haven’t exactly made any moves to get super excited about. While they certainly are not involved with what happens during this time of year, both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski should be part of the conversation relating to what has taken place. Specific to Gronkowski, if he is indeed on the fence about coming back, have the Patriots done their part this offseason to make him want to? Maybe not to this point. If the organization goes out and adds a few big names, perhaps that could be what it takes for Gronkowski to commit to playing if he knows he doesn’t need to carry the load like he has in recent years. Specific to Brady, much has been made about the two receivers added so far and not giving him the weapons he needs. Well, if Brady really wanted some of the bigger names available, he certainly could have gone to the team and expressed a desire to restructure his contract to lower his $27 million cap hit. An extension still seems likely to happen, but if Brady pressed the issue it could have been done by now. Gronkowski too for that matter -- he’s taking up close to $10 million in cap space as the Patriots are operating under the assumption he’s back for 2019. With that being said, there's still plenty of time for moves to be made and change the entire perception of the offseason. So, while Brady and Gronkowski aren’t the ones making the moves, they are still part of the conversation given their statuses.

2. Of the players the Patriots have signed to this point, expect Brandon Bolden, Mike Pennel and Terrence Brooks to make the most impact next season. Bolden’s contract, $1 million guaranteed and a $1 million signing bounces per reports, make it almost a guarantee he’s on the roster come Week 1. What a difference a year makes for the special-teamer. Pennel should be viewed as a nice upgrade over Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown, as he’s been solid with the Jets the last few years. And lastly, Brooks, another former Jet, logged the most special teams snaps in the NFL last season and figures to continue that role in New England.

3. What isn’t getting talked about much is the potential for the Patriots to make a trade to address the wide receiver need. With 12 draft picks, and six in the top 101, anything is possible — and they might not even need to give up No. 32 overall in a potential trade considering the Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. deals. While players on expiring contracts always first come to mind — A.J. Green, Sterling Sheperd, Nelson Agholor, etc. — players on rookie deals may also be considered as well given the Patriots’ current cap situation. Teams in rebuilding modes could potentially be targeted first.

4. One of the more underrated positions the Patriots need to sure up via free agency is a backup tackle, as it seems the team will enter 2019 with Isaiah Wynn as the starting left tackle. With him not playing at all his rookie season, it’s vital there’s an insurance policy in place behind him. LaAdrian Waddle seemed like the perfect candidate, but he signed with Buffalo on Saturday. This now is even more of a priority and might be tough to fill given a week in free agency has already gone by.

5. While the Patriots have seen a number of their free agents depart and haven't been active much in signing players of their own, it does mean they are primed to cash in on compensatory picks in 2020. According to Nick Korte of OverTheCap.com, right now the Patriots are projected to receive two third-round comp picks in 2020. These are even more valuable given they can be traded. The Seahawks and Eagles have also cashed in on these picks with four and three respectively, as of now.

6. Going into the offseason, much was made of the Colts being the team to watch with all the cap space that they had. Through the first week, all they have done is signed wide receiver Devin Funchess to a one-year deal. They still have over $70 million in cap space and not too many players available they will demand top dollar, so it seems they will roll it all over into 2020.

7. This is a big week for college pro days and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Bill Belichick at a few. Here are the notables: Alabama (Tuesday), Boston College (Wednesday), Ohio State (Wednesday), Georgia (Wednesday), South Carolina (Thursday), West Virginia (Thursday) and LSU (Friday).

Related: Underrated Patriots player signs with Bills

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