The Patriots effectively have been shoo-ins for the playoffs for the past two decades.
ESPN NFL writer Dan Graziano, however, believes New England won’t be playing next January.
The Patriots’ future is fairly ominous, to say the least. Tom Brady is expected to test out the open market for the first time in his storied career, but he’s not the only noteworthy impending free agent in Foxboro. New England, in total, has 19 players eligible for free agency this spring, including Joe Thuney and a handful of defensive stalwarts.
Graziano recently was asked which 2019 playoff team will miss the postseason in the 2020 campaign, and with potential franchise-altering changeover looming in New England, he opted for Bill Belichick’s group.
“I’m going big. I’m going Patriots,” Graziano said on “NFL Live.” “How about that? I’m going to say Tom Brady is leaving and I’m going to say they’re going to probably think about maybe a little bit of a tear-down, rebuild situation in New England. They have a very old roster. It’s crazy to say the Patriots won’t be in the playoffs, but it’s early February, so big or go home. I say Tom Brady leaves and they don’t make it back.”
Brady departing probably wouldn’t help the Patriots’ case, but it likely wouldn’t eliminate their playoff hopes for next season either. After all, the AFC East remains a very winnable division, and it’s tough to imagine the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets or Miami Dolphins making a significant leap in 2020.
A Super Bowl LV berth, at least at present, doesn’t seem likely for the Patriots, but a 12th consecutive division crown still feels feasible, with or without Brady under center.