The Patriots face a pivotal offseason, and it might take bold moves to ensure the franchise truly can move on from the Tom Brady era.

That change will not include Bill Belichick after New England parted ways with the longtime head coach. Jerod Mayo leads a new-look staff that has some familiarity with it. All eyes will be on what the Patriots do with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but free agency also will be key in trying to fill multiple holes on the roster.

ESPN polled multiple experts and insiders on their way-too-early Super Bowl predictions and offseason moves they want to see happen. Jeremy Fowler chose the Patriots for his offseason hope.

“The Patriots submarine the Buccaneers by signing QB Baker Mayfield,” Fowler wrote Friday. “While Tampa is the clear-cut favorite to re-sign Mayfield, now a coveted free agent after a banner year with the Bucs, anything can happen in free agency. And the Patriots’ new brain trust — including lead personnel man Eliot Wolf and personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith — were part of the Cleveland regime that took Mayfield No. 1 in the 2018 draft. They believed in him. Yes, the Patriots can take a quarterback at No. 3 overall. But who’s to say they wouldn’t still need a veteran? Or, if they believe Mayfield is a long-term answer in this case, they could draft Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. or trade back for more capital.”

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New England has plenty of cap space to use this offseason, and it will be internally debated how to utilize the team’s resources. It’s unlikely the Patriots would want to get in a bidding war for a quarterback who at worst would be a bridge option for a young player. Mayfield also has a connection with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, so his name will be floated around a lot this offseason.

If New England isn’t sold on the top three quarterbacks, then it could trade down and take a chance on a late-round QB. The option for a Justin Fields trade also is on the table, but the goal is clear for many: New England must find a clear option under center.

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Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe’s futures with the Patriots look bleak, and if they do stick around, it’s more likely they are backups to whoever is signed, traded for or drafted. Whether Mayfield is one of those options will have to be a wait-and-see.

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