Ex-NFL Exec Explains What Patriots Should Worry About This Summer

Does New England have enough cornerback depth?


June 24, 2021

The Patriots addressed several of their biggest needs, re-signed Cam Newton and infused some quarterback competition by selecting Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

One could say it was a strong offseason in New England, where the Patriots are coming off an uncharacteristically shaky season, and that improvement is right around the corner.

Still, not everything is perfect in Foxboro. And former NFL executive Michael Lombardi, who once worked as an assistant to Bill Belichick’s coaching staff in New England, explained Thursday what the Patriots should be worried about this summer.

Here’s what Lombardi wrote for a piece on The Athletic detailing each AFC team’s concerns over the next several weeks:

Summer vacation takes Bill Belichick to the shores of Nantucket, where he will be wondering about his rebuild from this offseason and if he did enough at the corner position. While everyone else will focus on the quarterback battle between first-round pick Mac Jones and incumbent Cam Newton, Belichick will spend his summer evenings worrying about his depth at corner — even if Stephon Gilmore returns.

Stephon Gilmore held out of minicamp, further sparking speculation about his contract situation with the Patriots and whether New England might trade the star cornerback before the upcoming season.

Losing Gilmore certainly would hurt, though, despite his play slipping a bit in 2020. New England doesn’t have the strongest cornerback depth, and Gilmore’s exit would cast a cloud of uncertainty over a defense that otherwise is positioned to be much better in 2021.

So, as Lombardi said, perhaps Belichick will take the next few weeks to think about Gilmore’s current deal and whether the Patriots should take action to make sure he remains part of the organization’s future.

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