The New England Patriots have a couple of problems to normalize forward of coaching camp. Invoice Belichick has extra drama than is typical for the coach.
In a single case, he’s received a star cornerback in Stephon Gilmore, who’s sad together with his contract. Gilmore’s drawback: He’s solely making $7.2 million in new cash in 2021. The Patriots’ drawback: He’s tolling $16.2 million on the wage cap in 2021. The 30-year-old is due more cash, however the Patriots need to determine how, precisely, they’ll mitigate danger within the strategy of giving him a elevate.
After which there’s N’Keal Harry, a former first-round choose who is popping into one of many worst busts of Belichick’s tenure in New England. Harry demanded a commerce, which was daring contemplating how little leverage he must be telling his workforce what to do.
I’m going to exit on a limb: I say each gamers find yourself on the Patriots. Let’s dive into these choices — and so many extra — on this version of the 53-man roster projection.
If Jones beats out Newton, then what?
I may see a situation the place Newton needs to maneuver on in hopes of successful one other job elsewhere. That would depart the Patriots with Jones, Stidham and Brian Hoyer. However on this case, let’s think about Newton wins the job. At that time, Hoyer is expendable, with Jones and Stidham taking part in at a better stage.
Perhaps the Patriots don’t have an elite RB1 (particularly not in fantasy soccer phrases), however they’ve a pleasant array of complementary gamers. Harris and Michel will play early downs, with Harris most likely getting some work within the passing sport. White would be the dependable pass-catcher that he’s all the time been. Stevenson, a rookie, is prone to get work within the purple zone, the place he can bruise between the tackles and, sneakily, contribute as a pass-catcher.
I’ll be completely trustworthy: Keene didn’t look like a participant worthy of an NFL roster spot throughout organized workforce actions and minicamp. I entertained bumping him off the roster in favor of a receiver, however he’s a participant they traded up for within the third spherical. He’s additionally a participant Belichick acknowledged would want improvement, so it’s straightforward to surrender on Keene in an offseason when the Patriots paid massive cash for Henry and Smith. However the Patriots give the Virginia Tech product a second probability in 2021.
The truth that Harry needs out is exactly why he received’t depart. Not less than, that’s what I’ll posit for this 53-man roster. Harry may need been price a fourth- or fifth-round choose previous to demanding a commerce. Now that his calls for are out, New England is a conditional sixth-rounder. In the event that they took that, they’d lose on two fronts. Harry, if he makes the workforce, could possibly be extra beneficial than a sixth-rounder in 2022. And by overtly negotiating his method of the workforce, Belichick loses authority. I don’t see that occuring. As an alternative, there’s most likely a situation the place Belichick sits Harry down and convinces him that New England is one of the best place for him (which can or might not be true).
So he stays as a big-bodied red-zone risk behind versatile receivers Agholor, Meyers and Bourne.
The Patriots have a strong group of starters, but when preserving Keene, Johnson (the fullback) and Harry, New England must go gentle with depth. Karras, a starting-caliber guard and heart, helps provoke the inside within the occasion of harm. Herron is a playable deal with. Martin is one other guard. It’s not excellent, particularly not at deal with. However it’s nonetheless fairly darn good when trying across the NFL on the shoddily constructed traces.
Should you’re on the lookout for Jalen Mills, he’s within the cornerback group. I don’t know that he’ll spend extra time there than at security. However for now, that’s the place I’ve him touchdown. The highest three — McCourty, Phillip and Dugger — will all make the roster. Davis brings worth on particular groups, so if one other participant can match that worth, whereas bringing extra on protection, he may bump Davis.
If the Patriots don’t have Gilmore on this group, they’ll have issues. That’s why New England will doubtless determine a option to make Gilmore joyful earlier than the beginning of 2021. He’s not going to like the deal he will get — however he’ll be joyful sufficient to play laborious. And that’s what New England will want in the event that they’re going to make the playoffs.
As for Joejuan Williams, a 2019 second-round choose, it’s laborious to see the place he suits into this 12 months’s roster. The rangy defensive again merely hasn’t excelled in any function New England offers him.
Van Noy will doubtless bounce between inside and outside linebacker, however let’s place him on this group — for now. The entire group is a lock to make the workforce, barring a commerce. The one participant I may think about transferring is Winovich, who has some similarities in his sport to Uche and Perkins. New England would possibly be capable of flip Winovich for one more starting-caliber participant at a special place.
Hightower, after all, is a lock to make the roster. Even after a 12 months away, he has not misplaced a step. However Bentley and Jennings are removed from a certain factor. Bentley merely seemed too sluggish in the midst of New England’s unimpressive run protection. Jennings seemed misplaced and barely performed. It’s potential the Patriots bump one or each gamers off the roster in favor of Raekwon McMillan or a participant at a special place. (A fast notice: I think about Cameron McGrone will spend the season on injured reserve.)
The locks look like Godchaux, Man, Smart and Barmore. That leaves Anderson, who’s due an honest sum of money if he could make the workforce, and Spence to fend off Montravious Adams, Carl Davis and Byron Cowart, amongst others. Belichick goes to need this group to assist him cease the run — Godchaux, specifically, was the most important monetary free company funding to assist them just do that.
The Patriots retain arguably one of the best two gunners within the NFL. Bailey and Cardona haven’t respectable competitors. People, in the meantime, has simply rookie Quinn Nordin to beat out after Roberto Aguayo received lower. Nordin might have a strong leg, however his accuracy could be very inconsistent.