What’s Expected To Be Wild Patriots Offseason Starts With A Bang

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Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels

Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

The Indianapolis Colts and Josh McDaniels became Facebook official Tuesday at 10:59 a.m. ET. The posts announcing McDaniels as Indianapolis’ next head coach have since been deleted. His pictures have been scrubbed from the account.

Relationships in the social media age can be tenuous.

McDaniels is staying with the New England Patriots as offensive coordinator. The Patriots’ wild offseason already is peaking.

Since the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII, tight end Rob Gronkowski hinted at retirement, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left for the Detroit Lions, Gronkowski’s house was burglarized, McDaniels left for the Colts, McDaniels DIDN’T leave for the Colts, and now head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft are meeting for some reason in public where Patriots fans flock.

We’re probably forgetting something crazy.

It was reported Tuesday that Belichick is “locked in” with the Patriots for 2018. That answers a question the Patriots were faced with entering the offseason.

It also appears that the Patriots won’t have to replace special teams coach Joe Judge or assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski. That saves some trouble.

So, here’s what still needs to be determined this offseason:

Will Gronkowski retire?
It was first hinted at by ProFootballTalk right before Super Bowl LII. Gronkowski acknowledged after the game he has had the thought. But has he really been thinking about it? He did suffer a concussion in the AFC Championship Game.

Or is he trying to get a contract extension with a big-time signing bonus while he’s still 28 years old and the best tight end this planet has ever seen? We’ll find out.

Who becomes defensive coordinator?
Linebackers coach Brian Flores seemed to be the obvious choice … until Greg Schiano’s name was thrown out there.

I’ll need to see it to believe Schiano would really come over as defensive coordinator. Flores seems ready. But Belichick is a Schiano Man.

Nick Caserio returns, right?
With McDaniels hanging around and looking like Belichick’s successor, it increases the already likelihood Caserio will stay with the Patriots. But the Carolina’ Panthers’ general manager gig is still available. The Panthers will need to be sold before it’s filled.

Interim general manager Marty Hurney took a paid leave of absence after his ex-wife accused him of harassment. We’ll see how and when this shakes out.

Will offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia return?
Scarnecchia already retired once, and he’ll be 70 years old next season. If he’s up for another year, the Patriots will have him. If he’s not, then coaching assistant Cole Popovich likely would take over.

Who will Patriots be able to re-sign in free agency?
New England has no shortage of unrestricted free agents: cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Johnson Bademosi, defensive end Geneo Grissom, defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, safety Nate Ebner, offensive tackles Nate Solder, LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming, linebackers James Harrison and Marquis Flowers, running backs Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden and wide receivers Matthew Slater and Danny Amendola.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see some of the above players go to Detroit with Patricia. We know they won’t be following McDaniels to Indianapolis because McDaniels isn’t going to Indianapolis.

Butler is as good as gone. The most important players to re-sign are Solder, Ebner, Slater, Lewis, Burkhead and Amendola.

Who will the Patriots pick as their quarterback of the future?
The Patriots need to draft quarterback Tom Brady’s successor after trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers in October.

Will it be Kyle Lauletta? Will it be Mason Rudolph? Will it be Lamar Jackson? Sam Darnold? Josh Rosen? Josh Allen? Baker Mayfield?

Who knows! But the 2018 NFL Draft, in which New England has three picks in the top 63, sure will be interesting from a Patriots perspective.

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