It’ll be months before we find out whether the New England Patriots’ unusually active offseason will produce another Super Bowl title. But the early reviews of New England’s moves have been overwhelmingly positive.
In fact, ESPN’s Dan Graziano dubbed this Patriots offseason the best ever by a defending Super Bowl champion in the salary cap era (since 1993).
Here’s Graziano’s reasoning, from an ESPN.com column published Wednesday:
Riding the momentum of their 25-point comeback in the Super Bowl, the Patriots came out swinging this offseason. They signed free-agent Stephon Gilmore away from Buffalo. They traded for Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Kony Ealy. They snagged running backs Mike Gillislee from Buffalo and Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati. They rejected all attempts by other teams to trade for backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, held onto disgruntled cornerback Malcolm Butler (we’ll see how that plays out), and kept offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in spite of his receiving interest elsewhere as a head coach. Losses included Martellus Bennett, Chris Long, Logan Ryan and LeGarrette Blount, but they have plans for replacing those guys and seem locked in on trying to get a sixth title in Tom Brady’s age-40 season.
Yep, that sounds about right. The 2017 Patriots undoubtedly are a more talented team than the one that went 14-2 and won a Super Bowl just last season. They enter the summer as overwhelming Super Bowl favorites, and for good reason.
The Patriots actually occupied three of the top four spots on Graziano’s list, with the 2003 team (additions: Corey Dillon, Vince Wilfork, Ben Watson) ranking second and the 2001 squad (Deion Branch, David Givens) placing fourth.
The 2004 and 2014 Patriots teams, meanwhile, didn’t fare nearly as well, ranking 19th and 18th, respectively, out of the 24 Super Bowl winners included.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images