Patriots Mailbag: Grading New England’s Offseason Additions

The Patriots spent and scored big


Mar 19, 2021

The first few days of NFL free agency are usually a snoozefest for New England Patriots fans.

Not this year! The Patriots were absolutely the most active team during the NFL’s free agency negotiating period, and the transactions have kept leaking out over the last few days.

Patriots fans want to know what’s next, so watch above and read below for answers to your pressing questions in this week’s mailbag.

How do you see the QB situation going based on whats happened in FA? Will they trade up in the draft for a QB with Cam as a mentor? If Jimmy G shakes loose what happens to Cam? If it is Cam next year, you think we will see same old or better performance?Future of Stiddy/Dolegala?

I would say that the most likely outcome to the Patriots’ quarterback situation is that Cam Newton will be the starter in 2021. Newton is currently signed to the roster and was the starter last season. But Newton starting is certainly not guaranteed.

If a better quarterback comes along, whether that’s Jimmy Garoppolo or a rookie, then the Patriots won’t hesitate to act. It’s tough to say what would happen if the Patriots trade for a quarterback like Garoppolo. My guess is that Garoppolo and Newton would compete in training camp, and the loser would either serve as the backup, be cut or traded.

If Newton is the starter next season, then I would absolutely expect a better performance. Newton’s pass-catching options have improved dramatically already this offseason. Most of last year, he was throwing to Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, Ryan Izzo and James White. Now the Patriots have signed Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. They’ll likely add a replacement for White soon, as well.

Can you give letter grades for all our offseason additions and resignings?

I’ll just do the additions:

TE Jonnu Smith: B+ — Big money but good player.
TE Hunter Henry: B+ — Ditto.
OLB Matt Judon: B+ — The Patriots paid up for Judon, but he’ll add a steady presence at a position of need.
WR Nelson Agholor: C — It seems like the Patriots overpaid for Agholor in a cool market for wide receivers. There’s obviously a method to Bill Belichick’s madness, but he also historically hasn’t had the best judgment in wide receivers. We’ll see how this contract and signing pans out compared to the rest of the wide receivers who were available this offseason.
WR Kendrick Bourne: B+ — The originally reported financials were a little concerning, but it wound up being a three-year, $15 million contract for a young wide receiver with upside.
DT Davon Godchaux: C+ — A two-year, $15 million contract for a run-stuffing defensive tackle seems steep. Bill Belichick hit on Lawrence Guy in 2017 but missed on Mike Pennel and Beau Allen in recent years.
LB Kyle Van Noy: A — Two years, $12 million is a bargain for a player who just signed a four-year, $51 million contract one year ago.
DB Jalen Mills: B — Mills is a perfect Patriots defensive back who can play pretty much every position in the secondary. A four-year, $24 million contract is fair.
DL Henry Anderson: B — Anderson is another bargain who was released from a three-year, $25.2 million contract two years in. He’ll play for $7 million over two years with the Patriots.
C Ted Karras: B — He’ll be a steady backup behind Isaiah Wynn, Michael Onwenu, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Trent Brown. This deal would have looked better if the Patriots hadn’t also re-signed Andrews.
DT Montravius Adams: B-: We don’t know the exact financials, but Adams is a depth signing on the defensive line.

Where do you think patriots will go next with the cap space we still seem to have if they were to make another move via trade or free agency?

They’ve been sniffing around running backs, so I’d expect them to make a move there and another one at defensive tackle.

Godchaux, Anderson and Adams are a good start at defensive tackle, but they need to make one more addition. Some logical moves would be re-signing Lawrence Guy or Danny Shelton.

According to draftniks it seems like 15 is an eerie fog covered area of the draft; lot of good players but maybe not for that capital, so I ask of thee, will the great FA work make it more likely the Patriots trade back, get a 2, draft for future and get Mond?

I think it’s actually more likely that they’ll trade up in the draft to grab their quarterback. The Patriots have filled most of their needs through free agency. Now they can be aggressive and get a young quarterback on a cheap rookie deal.

We’ll see if it happen or if it’s even possible, but that’s the logical next step.

How do you feel the patriots will utilize both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry? #MailDoug

Both players have the ability to move around, which is good for the Patriots’ offense.

Smith has spent 75 percent of his career as a more traditional inline tight end, while Henry has played inline on only 50 percent of his snaps. So, Smith will likely be the more traditional blocker, but he has the athleticism to play out wide, in the slot or in the backfield.

Henry is the better pure receiver even if he’s not quite as athletic as Henry.

Why do you think the Pats prioritized Agholar? He is making the same or more per season than Corey Davis and Samuel and both seem to be better players. #MailDoug

My best guess is the Patriots liked his ability to stretch the field. He was an incredible deep threat last season. There also is a potential connection with Jim Schwartz, the retired former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator. Schwartz worked with Belichick on the Cleveland Browns.

Agholor and Schwartz were with the Eagles together from 2016 to 2019, so it’s possible Belichick knew the receiver would be a good culture fit in New England from talking to Schwartz.

Curtis Samuel and Corey Davis have more potential upside than Agholor, but they would have come with risks, as well. Davis only really produced for one year with the Tennessee Titans. Samuel was the Carolina Panthers’ No. 3 receiver behind D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.

Let’s go rapid fire.

in the last week, how many hours of sleep do you think bill got in?

Probably more than me.

With all these signings, I expect some trades now. I keep thinking Chase Winovich (a little small for Patriots edge) might be one to go. Does he still have a place here?

I would personally keep Winovich around as a third-down pass rusher. I don’t know if he has a future in New England as an every-down edge defender because of his size and run-defense limitations, but he’s extremely efficient as a pass rusher, and those players are not easy to find.

What do you think Harry is worth in trade?

A late-round pick or player.

Do you think the signings were done strategically in a way they could add any first rounder to boost that group. For example, no group besides TE has a real blue chip young player, so BB can go anyway he wants with 15 to complete a position group

I think that’s pretty accurate. Unless they trade up for a quarterback, they’re in a great position to take the best player available whether that’s a wide receiver, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, linebacker or defensive back.

How’s the salary cap looking for next year, with the signees

Limited but not obstructive.

For a man who is notorious for wearing cut off sleeves, bill sure has a lot of tricks up there… But do you reckon there’s a few more up there

Great wording. I could definitely see a few more surprises from the Patriots.

Who is playing quarterback for the Patriots week 16?

I don’t even know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow. Probably a bagel — for breakfast, not at quarterback.

Put on your prognostication cap. Who is the Pats starting QB in week 8, Cam? #MailDoug

I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner tonight. Probably some chicken — for dinner, not at quarterback.

Deshaun Watson are we in play? NE

I asked around to some people around the NFL who know things and was told in no uncertain terms, “No.”

Do you think the Pats have enough draft capital to trade up for one of the top 4 QBs? (Presumably pick 8 or higher)

The Patriots do have the draft capital to move up into the top eight, yes.

Does your boy Kristian Wilkerson get a fair shot to make the roster this season? Or is he another #Patriots cult hero like Ralph Webb.

He’ll certainly get a shot to prove himself in training camp and preseason. I’m excited to see what he can do. His rookie preseason was canceled.

Do you think there will be a position change for Keene?

Dalton Keene’s best position is probably in a Kyle Juszczyk-type role as a fullback/H-back, and that can co-exist with Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith at tight end.

Who do you choose between Fields and Lance? Greetings from Brazil! Go Pats!

I would choose Justin Fields. I like Trey Lance a lot, but there’s some risk involved in taking a one-year wonder out of an FCS school.

Based on the roster at the time of this tweet. What do you project our record to be this season? I’m thinking at worst we get 3 more wins at best 5.

I’ll say 10-7 right now (remember the 17-game season). If they bring in another quarterback, that prediction will shift.

What RB do you see pats signing in Free agency?

Phillip Lindsay or Mike Davis.

In your opinion, what is a greater need as of now: O-Line improvements, a new QB, or a true WR1? #MailDoug


Doug, why do several local media members focus much more on the negatives for the Patriots in Free Agency rather than how these players can fit into the Patriots system?

They think that’s what sells. And for some people, it does.

With the free agent additions so far, do you see the Patriots going all in to move up the draft board and take Trey Lance or Justin Fields?

Seems as though we’re a QB away from being competitive again #maildoug
I think that’s definitely a possibility. The Patriots might need a cheap quarterback again in 2021 while looking at their cap space.

Do you think Stidham is a roster lock?

Not if the Patriots add another quarterback.

#maildoug Is Pat Chung a Patriot Hall-of-Famer?

I believe he should be.

Outside of a move at QB, what position do you feel the Pats still need to address in Free Agency? WR, DL, etc. #MailDoug

Defensive line and running back.

Regarding 1st Round QB Trade Up: the reality is that picks 1 – 3 are not available to you with Lawrence, Jets & Dolphins. Then Atlanta is probable for a QB at 4. What team is likely available to trade with you for the 5th QB and who do you think is the guy there?

No. 5 (Cincinnati Bengals), No. 10 (Dallas Cowboys), No. 11 (New York Giants) and No. 13 (Los Angeles Chargers) could all be available.

Do you think the pats make the playoffs with all the moves they have made?


Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images
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