Is ESPN Disrespecting Patriots With This AFC East Future Outlook?

It seems a handful of writers are more confident in the Bills (and Dolphins)


July 3, 2021

The New England Patriots are coming off one of the organization’s worst campaigns in two decades last season, but offseason spending has improved the roster.

It seems a handful of writers, however, still aren’t extremely convinced with how the Patriots will fare in AFC East competition in the short term.

Four ESPN NFL reporters who cover the division — Marcel Louis-Jacques, Cameron Wolfe, Mike Reiss and Rich Cimini — were asked which team they believe is in the best position to compete for the AFC East three years down the road.

Here are snippets from their answers:

Cimini: I can’t believe I’m not picking the Patriots out of pure habit, but will Belichick even be around in three years? Is Jones the answer at quarterback? Is Wilson the answer for the Jets? Tagovailoa for Miami? The Bills have a known quantity at quarterback (and coach), which makes this an easy choice…

Reiss: Once the Bills re-sign quarterback Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds — and I view those moves as more of “when” than “if” — it will further solidify them as the franchise with the best three-year outlook. Put me down for the Bills, but with this caveat: I believe the Patriots will be sending a big thank-you note to the San Francisco 49ers for passing on Jones with the No. 3 overall draft pick.

Louis-Jacques: The Bills are the kings of the AFC East, and here’s the thing: Most of their cornerstones have either been drafted over the past few years or are in their athletic prime.

Wolfe: Miami will be the team to beat in 2024. There’s little doubt the Bills reign right now, but I’m betting on Tagovailoa to ascend to being the quarterback the Dolphins drafted him to be last year.

It’s certainly fair to think the defending division champion Bills are leading the pack in the immediate future while the Patriots’ (lack of) success in recent drafts essentially made their free-agency splurge much-needed. But if the Patriots did find their franchise quarterback in Mac Jones and those signings prove successful, New England shouldn’t be counted out — especially with Belichick on the sideline.

Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images
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