As the calendar flips to 2017, we took a look back at the eventful, entertaining, heartbreaking and downright bizarre year that was for the New England Patriots. This is Part 1 of the 2016 Patriots Year in Review. Check back on New Year’s Day for Part 2.
Jan. 3: The South Florida stinker
All the Patriots needed to do to secure home-field advantage in last season’s playoffs was beat a sub-.500 Miami Dolphins team in Week 17. Instead, they handed the ball off to Steven Jackson and Brandon Bolden a combined 23 times and lost 20-10 in perhaps the ugliest football game of 2016. That loss, many have argued, was what ultimately cost New England a chance for a second consecutive Super Bowl title.
Jan. 24: Disappointment in Denver
After dispatching the Kansas City Chiefs with relative ease in the divisional round, the Patriots had to travel to Denver for the AFC Championship Game for the second time in three years. They lost 20-18 to a Broncos team that would go on to win Super Bowl 50.
Jan. 25: DeGuglielmo gets canned
The Broncos hit Tom Brady 17 times in the AFC title game, capping an all-around miserable season for New England’s battered offensive line. One day later, the Patriots fired O-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. They’d replace him with a familiar face: Dante Scarnecchia, whom Bill Belichick coaxed out of retirement to take over the unit he led from 1999 to 2013.
Feb. 16: Mayo calls it a career
Patriots linebacker and captain Jerod Mayo announced his retirement, ending a productive but injury-plagued Patriots tenure after eight seasons.
March 11 to 18: The new guys
The Patriots brought in several new faces in mid-March, signing wide receiver Chris Hogan, defensive end Chris Long and linebacker Shea McClellin and trading for tight end Martellus Bennett. All four have made significant contributions this season. Not all of New England’s free-agent signings panned out, however, as veterans Terrance Knighton, Donald Brown and Nate Washington all failed to make the team out of training camp.
March 15: The Chandler Jones trade
In the first of two franchise-shaking trades, the Patriots dealt one of their best players, defensive end Chandler Jones, to the Arizona Cardinals for offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick.
April 13: Dominique Easley dumped
The Patriots stunningly cut defensive lineman Dominique Easley less than two years after drafting him in the first round in 2014. Easley wound up signing with the Los Angeles Rams.
April 25: Brady’s suspension reinstated
Everyone’s least favorite NFL storyline, Deflategate, came roaring back in the news cycle when the U.S. Court of Appeals voted to reinstate Brady’s four-game suspension. Brady continued to fight the ban, and the controversy continued into the summer.
April 28 to 30: Draft day
The Patriots found gems in guard Joe Thuney (third round, 78th overall) and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (fourth round, 112th overall) and promising contributors in quarterback Jacoby Brissett (third round, 91st overall), defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (third round, 96th overall) and linebacker Elandon Roberts (sixth round, 214th overall). Cornerback Cyrus Jones, however, has yet to prove he was worthy of the Patriots’ top pick (second round, 60th overall).
May 23: “En banc”
Brady’s lawyer, Ted Olson, announced the quarterback would file a request in the U.S. Court of Appeals to rehear his case en banc, meaning it would be heard before all 13 Second Circuit judges. It took nearly two months for the court to respond to this request.
July 2: Brady pitches KD
The Celtics enlisted Brady in an effort to lure stud free agent Kevin Durant to Boston. The QB reportedly made a spirited recruiting pitch, but Durant ultimately chose the Golden State Warriors.
July 13: Appeal denied
The Second Circuit court shut down Brady’s suspension appeal, denying a new hearing. That left Brady and his legal team with two options: accept the suspension or take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
July 15: At long last, Deflategate ends
More than 500 days after the first Deflategate report broke, Brady announced he was giving up the fight and accepting his four-game ban. He’d spend the summer and the preseason with the team before beginning his month-long exile and handing the reins to Jimmy Garoppolo in early September.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts as he leaves the field following the game against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.
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