The New England Patriots are officially onto the offseason. With that being said, the Patriots will be shifting their attention towards planning for free agency, the NFL Draft, and everything else that comes in between. So what is next for the New England Patriots?
First things first, after getting routed by the Buffalo Bills 47-17 in the Wild Card round it was clear to see that a huge issue that needs to be addressed is the consistent production of the defense. In the final two matchups against the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots defense failed to force a single punt. Not to mention every single possession by the Josh Allen lead offense of the Bills resulted in points in the game that mattered the most. Does the blame fall upon the players or the play calling of Defensive Coordinator Steve Belichick? Perhaps both? Regardless of who has a finger pointed in their face, it was clear to see that the Patriots secondary is far too thin on the depth chart, and stopping the run against nearly every opponent has been far too difficult for a top five ranked defense.
However, not all problems reside on the defensive side of the football. There was a time during the 2021 season when the Patriots looked poised to reclaim the throne as AFC Champions once again —they sat first in the conference at 9-4, shortly after defeating the Buffalo Bills to take back the top spot in the AFC East. Since that Week 13 win, the Patriots went 1-4, with their one win being a home victory against a Jacksonville team that finished with the worst record in the entire NFL. After bestowing trust in rookie Quarterback Mac Jones after Bill handed him the reins naming him the Week 1 starter, it is now time to build around him. Despite breaking the bank adding four new weapons (Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne), the Patriots still found that their offense lacked an athletic and explosive go-to-guy. In other words, they need to find a true number one Wide Receiver. Whether they explore free agency and target someone along the lines of Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, or Davante Adams. Whether they trade from a player such as Calvin Ridley. Or whether they address this need in the draft with someone along the lines of Jameson Williams, something must be done to add to the lack of explosiveness at the position.
In addition to this with around $28 million dollars in cap space the Patriots must make some important decisions on who to bring back or who to let walk. Amongst the 20 players with expiring contracts some notable names include JC Jackson, Trent Brown, Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Jakobi Meyers, and the list goes on. Decisions must be made as to utilizing the franchise tag, resigning key players, and filling holes in the roster with free agency. With a young and talented roster, led by the greatest coach of all time, the Patriots are poised for another playoff push come next season. However, that path to another Lombardi trophy is not given, it is earned. To make the first steps in the right direction the Patriots must address these issues sooner rather than later.