Patriots

Are Patriots losing their grip on AFC East now that Tom Brady is gone?

Are Patriots losing their grip on AFC East now that Tom Brady is gone?

In the past 20 years, the Patriots have so often accomplished impossible things that most have just given up on doubting them.

No matter how bleak things seem, no matter how high the odds are stacked against them, they still somehow find a way.

Malcolm Butler. 28-3. The 199th pick becoming the greatest quarterback ever while playing for a coach people thought was too grim to ever succeed.

Those are the nail holes non-believers had to see and touch in order to believe. And most did.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

And now? With Tom Brady gone and the team turning its lonely eyes to Stid? With no cap room available to shop for free agents and five years of subpar drafting in their rearview mirror? With one of the NFL’s oldest rosters ready to do battle in an AFC East which suddenly looks real competitive?

Well, even Patriots fans are willing to acknowledge that the grip on the division has slipped just a bit.

On Tuesday, we threw out our Quarantine Question of the Day (thank you to the 4,131 respondents for playing along), asking how strong the Patriots’ grip on the AFC East is right now.

Tellingly, only 3.7 percent of the respondents were willing to say that the grip remains “Strong. Real Strong.”

The vast majority of votes were cast for “Looks loose. But it's not” (42.9 percent) and “Slip, sliding away…” (39.6 percent).

And a lot of those see any dip on the grip is a temporary thing.

The Bills are seen as the biggest threat to the Patriots’ reign — no surprise given their offseason so far and their playoff appearance in 2019.

Also not a surprise? How vocal the “They’re F*****!!!!!” minority was.

https://twitter.com/scarn2020/status/1244987539456430081

Personally, I think the grip is slip, sliding away. And it’s closing in on, “They’ve lost their grip…”

That’s not an opinion based just on the loss of Brady or the others who’ve gone out the door in 2020. That’s based on the trade deficit this team’s been running since 2015.

Look at the players and coaches who’ve left in the past three seasons alone: Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, Kyle Van Noy, Dante Scarnecchia, Brian Flores and on and on.

And who — whether it be via draft or free agency — has the team brought in as legitimate cornerstone-type players for the next few seasons? Guys who could start for any team around the league? Joe Thuney. Shaq Mason. Lawrence Guy.

Maybe, given time, Isaiah Wynn, Chase Winovich and Jarrett Stidham? Possibly J.C. Jackson and N’Keal Harry?

Has there been a time in the past 10 years where the franchise faced this many questions and this much roster uncertainty? No.

The only time close was the 2008-2010 period, and the Patriots hoisted themselves out of that very mild malaise with incredible drafting prior from 2008 through 2012.

So are the Patriots losing their grip or merely readjusting it?

For it to be the latter, they have to rip it up in this year’s draft and get huge strides from their 2019 class which — given the pandemic — may be hard to accomplish.

If it’s the former? The rest of the division will finally be able to breathe again.

Listen and subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast:

NFL players rip league's postgame jersey swap policy for next season

NFL players rip league's postgame jersey swap policy for next season

A tradition that became popular in international soccer has become a staple of NFL postgames in recent years, but it might not be allowed during the 2020 season.

Swapping jerseys with an opponent is now commonplace in North American professional sports leagues. We often see younger players swap jerseys with veterans who they grew up watching. Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a sought-after player for the postgame jersey swap. Multiple players from the Washington Redskins asked for his No. 12 jersey after a Week 5 game last season.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Well, unfortunately for NFL players, swapping jerseys could be banned in the upcoming season as the league tries to implement social distancing measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the NFL and NFLPA have not yet agreed on all of the medical protocols for gamedays. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported the latest information Thursday:

Players were not pleased with this development, to say the least.

One of the most outspoken players was San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who tweeted the following message. It earned a retweet from Patriots running back James White, among other players.

Many other players were not afraid to share their displeasure with the jersey swap potentially being banned. Here are some of those reactions:

With opposition so strong and coming from several of the league's stars, it'll be interesting to see if the league eventually eases up and allows jersey swaps to happen as normal next season.

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

Cam Newton is wasting no time getting to know his New England Patriots wide receivers.

The new Patriots quarterback, who officially signed a one-year contract with the team Wednesday, linked up with wideout Mohamed Sanu last week for a few throwing sessions in Los Angeles.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

This Wednesday, it was N'Keal Harry's turn to catch passes from Newton, according to Boston.com, which obtained video of the duo's L.A. workout from EBA Sports.

The video shows Newton meeting Harry for the first time as a member of the Patriots before throwing the second-year receiver a handful of passes.

Newton and Harry worked out together for about two hours and were later joined by Cleveland Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., per Boston.com.

Next Pats Podcast: How can Pats maximize Harry's talent? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Harry has been working hard this offseason to improve his game after a disappointing rookie campaign. The Patriots' 2019 first-round pick appeared in just seven games last season due to a nagging ankle injury, catching 12 passes on 24 targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

It's encouraging to see the 22-year-old on the practice field with Newton, who's aiming to bounce back from his own foot injury that limited him to two games in 2019.

Newton will have to beat out second-year QB Jarrett Stidham for the starting job, and it appears he's eager to get started while developing chemistry with his new pass-catchers.