Off Day debate: Should Patriots tank in 2020?

WEEI
April 01, 2020 - 12:13 pm
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After Tom Brady left New England for Tampa Bay, the team has a lot of questions moving forward, particularly in 2020.

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With Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler as the only quarterbacks on the roster, the Patriots will not be favorites in the AFC for the first time in quite some time. 

With that being said, the team will have quite a bit of money to spend next offseason, so some have floated the idea of tanking in 2020 to get a high draft pick and having everything be looking towards 2021.

The Off Day podcast guys debated the topic, and you can vote for what you think at the end of the post.

YES

Sometimes the right decision is the most difficult one. As hard as it is to imagine for a Patriots team that’s been the cream of the NFL crop for essentially two decades, the reality is that taking short-term losses could lead to another long run of success. As it stands today, partially through the 2020 team building process, the Patriots roster has a lot of questions. Obviously the quarterback play is going to fall off in 2020. (And if Brian Hoyer is really in contention to be the opening day starter things could get really ugly.) There remain huge issues at both tight end and wide receiver. The offensive line might be better, but wasn’t that a unit that got a lot of the blame for the running and passing issues last fall? The defense lost two of its better versatile players and bigger contributors in Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. Name one player on defense who could be expected to play at a much higher level in 2020 than 2019. I’m waiting. The reality is that the Patriots have an aging roster with more questions than answers right now in a lot of areas. They also have no cap space to work with and limited draft capital given a lack second-round pick. Tanking in 2020 could set up Bill Belichick’s team for another historic run. A top-five pick could bring either Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields as a true franchise QB. There is the potential for $100 million in cap space next offseason. This is a bridge year at best. Bottom out quickly, deal off a few more aging assets and get the dynasty rolling along again starting a year from now. It’s in the best interests of the football team. Belichick is paid to make the cold, hard, calculated decisions for the Patriots – both in terms of short- and long-term success. A strong argument can be made that tanking is the right thing to do. Maybe the only thing to do. It is what it is.

-- Andy Hart

NO

While the Patriots certainly are not the favorites in the AFC, they still have the chance to be competitive and get into the playoffs, especially with the extra team being added. There's no question the quarterback play will not be the same, but wouldn't trying to win with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback benefit the franchise long-term? The team still has a solid core of players led by Julian Edelman, Devin McCourty, Stephon Gilmore, Dont'a Hightower, etc., which should be enough to be in the mix for a playoff spot. Having Stidham play in meaningful games, especially a playoff game, would greatly benefit him in the long-run. Same goes for other young players like N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Chase Winovich, etc. And if Stidham doesn't play well, then the team would know he isn't the answer and could use some of their money next offseason to add someone who they know would be the answer. The Patriots are not as far away from being the favorites in the AFC again as people think. If the team did not have those core veterans then tanking would be the best way to go, but that is not the case. The best way to go is to play to win each and every week and see where it takes the team. Then next offseason really evaluate every position and use the money available to better the positions that need it most. That should be enough to get the Patriots back into legitimate contention for 2021. And lastly, can you imagine Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft going into a season not looking to win? It is not in their DNA. No, the Patriots will not be the team to beat in 2020, but that does not mean they should just punt on the season and look towards 2021.

-- Ryan Hannable

Related: Why the Patriots might draft: TE Cole Kmet