If you thought last offseason was drama-packed for the New England Patriots, just wait until 2019.
With mounting internal fear of an inevitable rebuild, the Patriots could see “more members of the organization than ever before” leave after this season, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Sunday, citing team and league sources. Members of the team’s coaching and front office staff are wary of how the team will function once owner Robert Kraft, 77, steps down, and the apparent decline of 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady only has added to the growing unease inside Gillette Stadium.
“This is the time to get out, and those guys know it,” one NFL executive with ties to the Patriots told La Canfora. “There will be a lot of guys in there ready to see what else is out there.”
The List of personnel who reportedly could seek new opportunities is long, but here are some of the biggest names:
— Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
— De facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
— Director of player personnel Nick Caserio.
— Team development/character coach Jack Easterby.
This list doesn’t include head coach Bill Belichick. But there was rampant speculation last offseason of the 66-year-old potentially moving on, and you can bet his name will surface in rumors once the current season concludes.
Furthermore, tight end Rob Gronkowski threatened retirement last season, and his glaring decline this season has led many to speculate the All-Pro will call it quits once the Patriots wrap up the 2018 campaign, whenever that may be. Brady has maintained he intends to play for years to come, but he also has endured a slip in productivity and, unless he immediately commits to returning in 2019, he, too, likely will be the subject of wild offseason speculation.
Ultimately, the looming “mass exodus” could be tied to if New England succeeds or fails in the playoffs.
“The Patriots already lost top receiver Josh Gordon indefinitely due to another suspension and tight end Rob Gronkowski is clearly further slowing down and has already ruminated on retirement in recent years, La Canfora wrote. “The roster has become short on playmakers on both sides of the ball, and Brady is no longer in MVP conversations (not that any 41-year old quarterback would be expected to be).
“It’s setting up for potentially the most drama-filed offseason in recent team history, particularly if the team is unable to make what had become a near-annual trek to at least the AFC Championship Game.”
Of course, no one should be surprised if the Patriots silence the doubters, make another run at the Super Bowl and reconvene next year with little turnover. But given all that’s transpired the last 12 months, it’s hard to not feel like New England’s dynasty is near (or at) its end.
So buckle up, Patriots fans: You could be in for a bumpy offseason.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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