There’s a whole lot to be excited about for the New England Patriots as the 2019 NFL season approaches.
The Patriots are poised to feature one of the strongest defenses in the league, and they just might own the deepest collection of running backs as well. Combine a strong top-to-bottom roster with a favorable regular-season schedule, and New England, at least on paper, is primed for yet another deep playoff run.
There might be one cause for concern, though.
Tom Brady doesn’t exactly have a slew of high-end weapons at his disposal, leaving it tough to gauge what New England will receive from its wide receivers and tight ends. Without much else to choose from, it shouldn’t come as much surprise ESPN identifies pass-catcher as the Patriots’ biggest roster hole.
“Especially tight end, right? Rob Gronkowski’s retirement represents arguably the most significant personnel loss any team suffered this offseason,” Dan Graziano writes. “(Argue Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown all you want, but at least their teams got something in return.) Potential replacement Benjamin Watson is suspended for the first four games, so the Patriots need to get something out of the likes of Matt LaCosse, Lance Kendricks and Andrew Beck.
“At wide receiver, they obviously still have Julian Edelman but a lot to sort out otherwise. Look, the Patriots always figure it out, so we’re not sitting here saying they won’t. But from here, this looks like the biggest problem they need to fix.”
As if the Patriots’ pass-catching depth chart wasn’t pedestrian enough, the group currently is dealing with a handful of injuries. New England has been glaringly thin at wide receiver at both joint practices with the Tennessee Titans. This might come off as minor, but Brady could use all the time he can to build chemistry with the new faces in the offense.
As Graziano notes, Bill Belichick and Co. tend to make the most of what they have. If the 2019 Patriots manage to light it up with this current group, it would be one of their finest feats of the past two decades.