FOXBORO, Mass. — Big changes are coming for the New England Patriots.
After the Patriots suffered their third consecutive loss Monday night — 38-9 to the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium — to fall to 6-9 on the season, veteran cornerback Jason McCourty said fans can expect a roster overhaul in the coming months.
“I think when you have a season like we did this year and you’re not going to the playoffs, you have embarrassing losses, this roster’s going to be a lot different,” McCourty said in a postgame video conference.
“There’s a lot of guys that are in the locker room tonight that aren’t going to be in the locker room next year. Guys that are playing football right now that aren’t going to be playing football next year.”
McCourty could be one of those players. He’s set to hit unrestricted free agency in March and, at 33, has yet to decide whether he wants to continue playing in 2021.
âThatâs something I think that Iâll evaluate in the offseason,” he said. “For me, this is Year 12, so when you get this high up in numbers, I think each year, you have to evaluate. Obviously, Iâll be a free agent. You have to evaluate situations, family and the whole nine. So I think a little bit deeper into the offseason is when Iâll probably have to make that decision and talk to my wife and decide whatâs next for us in our lives.â
The Patriots enter this winter — their first without a playoff game since the 2008 season — with myriad roster needs.
Their receiving corps is arguably the weakest in the NFL. Their tight ends have combined for a league-low 15 receptions, including just two total from third-round draft picks Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. It’s become increasingly clear that neither Cam Newton nor Jarrett Stidham is their quarterback of the future, and the offensive line protecting them has two longtime starters headed for free agency (center David Andrews and left guard Joe Thuney). There even are questions at running back — perhaps the Patriots’ strongest position group — with James White and the injured Rex Burkhead both on expiring contracts.
Defensively, New England’s front seven badly needs an injection of talent, and its secondary could look very different in 2021 with McCourty and J.C. Jackson (restricted) both free agents and Stephon Gilmore unlikely to play on his current contract.
After losing more than half of their 2019 starters to free agency, trades and COVID-19 opt-outs, the Patriots’ defense has lacked experience and polish this season, with rookies (Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings, Myles Bryant) and ex-practice squadders (Terez Hall, Tashawn Bower, Bryant, Carl Davis, Akeem Spence, Nick Thurman) playing prominent roles.
“Obviously, we have a younger roster this year,” said McCourty, who called Monday’s defensive performance “a failure.”
Already assured of their first losing season since 2000, the Patriots will close out their 2020 schedule this Sunday against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.
“For us, we have one more opportunity left together,” McCourty said. “So whoever’s out there — young, old or indifferent, we’ve got to go out there and compete.â