Off Day Mailbag: What is Patriots' biggest need?

WEEI
January 09, 2020 - 3:58 pm
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Welcome to the Off Day Mailbag where Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable answer questions from Patriots fans across the world.

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This will be a regular feature throughout the Patriots' offseason.

Be on the lookout for @OffDayPod seeking questions each and every week.

At this moment, biggest need heading into free agency and the draft? Also, do you draft a QB in the 1st to 3rd rounds if Brady stays / doesn't stay? (@VicMartin_86)

Certainly the Brady situation and the veteran free agent issues on defense – guys like Jason McCourty, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy in particular – factor in to such a roster-building question as this one. But on a superficial level, I would say that tight end is easily the biggest need right now. New England got virtually nothing from the position – both in terms of blocking and receiving – in the first year post-Gronk. That can’t be the case again in 2020. If Brady stays, I think you consider drafting another quarterback but don’t have to depending on the internal evaluations of Jarrett Stidham. If Brady leaves, I think you not only have to draft another quarterback relatively high, but also need to bring in a potential veteran bridge guy like Blake Bortles. There is a reason that everybody is talking about Brady’s future, it has huge ramifications for the Patriots in so many ways.

-- Andy Hart

Hi Guys ..Rob from Leeds UK here , if Brady does move on do you think the Patriots will go with Stidham or bring in someone like Dalton or Mariota? Do you think we will draft a high end QB ( round 1 ) or try to grab a cheap one further down the draft and hope. (@voo7hees)

If Brady does move on, I see the Patriots bringing in a veteran -- like Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota or another free agent -- and potentially drafting a quarterback in the middle rounds. Then come training camp, it's an open competition and the best quarterback gets the starting job. That way there isn't a tremendous amount of pressure on Jarrett Stidham and it gives the Patriots multiple options to choose from. The Patriots have a number of positions worth addressing via the draft, which is why I don't think they would use one of their top picks on a quarterback. It also doesn't help that the Patriots have just one first-round pick and then don't pick again until they have likely three selections in the third round.

-- Ryan Hannable

Do you think Josh stays Brady stays and Gronk comes back? Also could AB possibly return (@Ryong901)

No.

--Andy Hart

What makes joe judge so different from other pats assistants who have gone on to become head coaches? (@nygtim)

First, as a special teams coach Judge’s experiences have been inherently different. He has overseen/used players from the entirety of the roster. That’s a plus. The minus side is that special teams isn’t truly a third of the game and he’s never really overseen much on offense or defense, other than working as the wide receivers coach for the Patriots this season. He also has a unique resume, having worked for arguably the greatest coach in college history (Nick Saban) and arguably the greatest coach in NFL history (Bill Belichick). All that being said, Judge will succeed or fail on his own skills – both as a coach and as a people person. Are you asking if I think Judge will succeed at a higher level than past Belichick assistants? Despite the glowing recommendations he got from Saban and Belichick, as well as apparently nailing the interview process, I certainly have my doubts. Of course the success rate of new/first time head coaches is pretty dismal in general these days regardless of where they come from.

-- Andy Hart

Do you feel that the formation of the entire Pats 2020 team is in paralysis until Brady makes his move? (@RickLaf2)

No, I really don't. Whether Brady comes back or not, the offense still needs to be upgraded and the defense has several key players who will be free agents. What Brady does shouldn't impact what the team does with its biggest free agents like Devin McCourty and Joe Thuney. Where Brady could impact things is when it comes to some of the second and third-tier free agents. If the Patriots bring back Brady at a massive cap number, that could impact their chances at bringing back players like Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy. Offensively, no matter what happens the team needs to address the tight end position and bring in a dependable, veteran wide receiver. The Patriots just cannot sit around and wait for Brady because if the quarterback starts to speak with other teams and take visits that could force them to miss out of some of the big name and most sought after free agents.

-- Ryan Hannable

Bigger disappointment this year: Harry or Michel? (@ChriswithaTIAN)

This one is easy for me – Michel. I had doubts about Harry from Day 1 and I think many people have doubts about rookie wide receivers in general. Part of what has made Harry’s slow start to his career more noticeable is the success that so any other rookies have had this season, which isn’t always the case. Michel, on the other hand, was expected to be a workhorse and add some playmaking to his skill set in 2019. Neither really happened. Sure, the line was an issue but the reality is that Michel very rarely maximized runs or got more than was blocked. He didn’t become a playmaker in the passing game. He didn’t help Brady and the passing game out by creating scary play-action opportunities. Michel had a decent rookie year and a tremendous  rookie postseason. He did nothing to build on that this fall. If anything he took a major step back, giving his many haters and critics more fuel for their bust proclamations. It is what it is. But there is always next year.

-- Andy Hart

Related: Peter King on D&K: Gut tells me Tom Brady cares more about surrounding talent than money