A new era of New England Patriots football began this week.

The Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era officially has transitioned into just the Belichick era, and it’s been a difficult change for many Patriots fans who have plenty of reasonable questions about the future of their favorite team.

We try to answer those in this week’s supersized mailbag.

Let’s get right into it:

@zekymurra
Do you think the patriots are going full rebuild mode or will they take a smoother approach? If the former is true, I think it will be interesting to see BB do it—I believe— for the first time in his career: how do you think he would approach it/which aspects he would prioritize?
I do not believe the Patriots are tanking or going for a rebuild. That’s not in Bill Belichick’s DNA, and the Patriots’ roster is too talented to do it anyway.

I believe the Patriots think they can win with a quarterback other than Brady, and I think there’s some logic in that thought process.

Let me first say I believe the Patriots would have been better re-signing Brady than moving on without him. That being said, the Patriots did not receive exemplary production or efficiency out of their passing game in 2019, and they still won 12 games. I am not placing full blame on Brady for New England’s average passing attack. I’m simply stating facts and saying the Patriots still won plenty of games despite ranking 17th in passer rating, eighth in yards, 16th in passing touchdowns, 24th in completion percentage and 21st in yards per attempt.

With some other fixes to their offensive weapons and offensive line, the Patriots can probably produce similar results with Jarrett Stidham or another quarterback replacing Brady.

New England does need to find a way to replace linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, but some in-house defensive options, like Chase Winovich, should play bigger roles.

The Patriots don’t need to go through a full rebuild to win football games. Their biggest needs are at tight end, wide receiver and linebacker. Through free agency, trades or the draft, the Patriots can still fill them.

@KParkPlace
does this mean Belichick plans on staying with the team long enough for a rebuild?
I once again want to reiterate that I don’t believe the Patriots are going through a “rebuild,” but there was never any doubt to me that Belichick planned on coaching for a while longer.

Quite honestly, I believe the fact that Robert Kraft gave Belichick the freedom to move on from Brady only strengthens the head coach’s standing with the team.

@CelticGreen2020
If you could choose 1 QB that’s either on the team or a FA to start this season, whose your guy?
All money considered, I’d just roll with Stidham for now.

If Andy Dalton gets released or Jameis Winston’s price tag significantly drops, then I’d bring one of those guys aboard as long as it’s for less than $10 million. I don’t love the idea of paying a middling quarterback $10-plus million. That’s what the Patriots would have to do if they traded for Dalton or Jacoby Brissett.

@gregsworlddudes
Doug, I feel sad. Who do you think is an early round target at WR for the pats and now that TB12 is out of the building, does this change draft strategy in the 1st?
At wide receiver, I’d look at Denzel Mims or Tee Higgins. Higgins was great last season at Clemson, but he didn’t test well at his pro day. Mims is a fantastic athlete and produced well as a senior at Baylor.

The Patriots’ draft strategy will definitely change after this week. Their need on the offensive line is lessened, while linebacker and quarterback now are more realistic possibilities in the first round.

@CupAJoeK
Is there a potential we see a different offense that doesn’t involve quick releases from the pocket? Also how gross do you think the buccaneers motel 6 digital clock number unis are? #MailDoug
The Patriots’ offense will definitely change with Brady gone. How much, we’ll find out soon. Stidham, for one, is much more mobile than Brady, and he showed off decent scrambling ability in the preseason.

I don’t necessarily think players have to fit certain molds as they did in the past. Do the Patriots definitely need a complete tight end who can block? We’ll see. Do they definitely need that short, shifty slot receiver to catch 100 passes? We’ll see. Tom Brady’s gone, and the molds might follow.

@J25T
Who’s going to be the Patriots week 1 starter?
Stidham is the odds-on favorite right now.

My next guess would be Dalton, but only if he’s released. HIs current salary is too high.

@Nichola78428899
Chances we try and trade up to get a top level QB in draft? #maildoug
It’s really tough without a second-round pick. The Patriots would have to package their first-round pick, their 2021 first-round pick and a third to even get near the top 10 picks.

I doubt the Patriots would be willing to make that deal unless someone like Tua Tagovailoa started to precipitously fall.

More Patriots: Pass-Catchers New England Could Target In Trade Market

@CodyHorlick
Any shot Edelman (given his age) and the rebuild state of the team, would lobby for himself to get released or traded to Tampa?
Brady is off the team. I’m not ruling anything out.

It’s worth noting that Edelman liked this tweet:

The Patriots would have to demand some pretty significant compensation since Edelman is far and away their best wide receiver. He is getting up there in age, however, and his body started to break down in 2019. He’s definitely more valuable to the Buccaneers than he would be to 30 other franchises.

@BThomps81
hey doug, I was just wondering if you think the patriots will make anymore moves to free up cap space and sign free agents?
I expect them to make more cap-clearing moves. I could see extensions, restructures, trades or cuts coming for guard Joe Thuney, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, right tackle Marcus Cannon or wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.

The Patriots have plenty of ways to free up cap space if they want to make more trades or signings.

@DirtyJ328
If you could have your realistic choice, pats stay at 23. Who are your top 3 guys for the Pats? Realistically…
Wisconsin OLB Zack Baun
Clemson WR Tee Higgins
Baylor WR Denzel Mims

Some other guys I like later: OT Ezra Cleveland, S Antoine Winfield Jr., LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, TE Hunter Bryant, TE Adam Trautman, WR Van Jefferson, LB Malik Harrison, DT Davon Hamilton, CB Essang Bassey, QB Jalen Hurts, S Geno Stone, WR Lynn Bowden Jr., OT Charlie Heck, LB Logan Wilson, TE Thaddeus Moss and DE Derrek Tuszka.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@elidamos
hru?
I’m doing fine. It’s tough to be working during such a busy time of the offseason with my daughter and wife in the house. But I’ve been managing just fine!

@JMBosworth
If I feel something with my throat do I full on freak out or just remember it’s allergy season?
It’s actually interesting. I’m usually a bit of a hypochondriac, but I’ve been managing to stay sane despite occasional coughs, sneezes and a scratchy throat.

@Duke0fHampshire
Do we know our compensation picks with the departures this week? #maildoug
I’d expect a third-round pick for Brady, a third or fourth for Van Noy and a fourth for Collins.

@PP_Rich_Hill
What’re your work from home strategies
So, I have the worst advice ever for working from home, which I do often. I just kind of wake up, immediately drink coffee, eat some breakfast and then put my computer on my lap and start working from the couch.

I’ll eventually put on some normal clothes, but I don’t work from an office in my house or anything special. Sometimes I’ll have trouble writing with the TV on, but I can manage to tune out movies my daughter is watching pretty well.

@LemeryATC
Doug, is Brady’s new contract going to cost the Bucs more than what Brees is getting from New Orleans?
It seems that way, yes.

@tayfieux
why is there a D in fridge but not in refrigerator 🧐
Hmm.

@ZakSalant
Overall, how’s the fan base been during this time? Sucks that Brady is gone, but I’m excited for a new era
In a word: exasperating.

@Swagabara
How many wins are the Patriots getting this season?
That’s a great question. I usually automatically say the Patriots are going to go 12-4, and they usually do. I have no idea this year.

@mezkid44
What do you see as the plan at WR? Clearly Harry and Sanu are not the answer
Why is that clear?

@chr31ter
Would signing Thuney to an extension change his cap number for this season?
Yes, it would significantly lower it.

@BigFiftyLG
What’s your third favorite smell?
Purple scented marker.

More Brady: Here’s What Reportedly Is Holding Up QB’s Buccaneers Contract

Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images