The New England Patriots don't just have to replace Tom Brady the football player. They have to replace the fearless team leader who guided New England to six Super Bowl championships.

Filling Brady's leadership void seems like a tall task, and one that may lead to a long season in New England ... unless you ask Rodney Harrison.

Joining host Mike Tirico on Monday on NBC Sports' "Lunch Talk Live," the ex-Patriots safety boldly predicted the Patriots will win 10 games in their first season without Brady.

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Why? Because Brady wasn't the only leader in Foxboro.


"The last thing they're worried about is leadership," Harrison said of the Patriots. "You've got so many leaders on the defensive side of the ball. You've got quiet leaders on the offensive side of the ball, and of course, you still have (head coach) Bill Belichick. I think this is a team that's looking at a 10-6 record, maybe 9-7 at the worst-case scenario."

Some oddsmakers may disagree with Harrison's outlook for the Patriots, and 10-6 would be quite the accomplishment for a team replacing Brady with Jarrett Stidham, an inexperienced 23-year-old who even Harrison isn't confident in.

New England also lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon and other key veterans this offseason. They're not lacking leaders, though: Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman all have been with the Patriots for at least a decade, while center David Andrews, running back James White, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung are respected members of the organization.


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Harrison also believes Brady's departure could open the door for other new leaders to step up.

"This is the time. All of the guys that come in, they volunteer, they do extra work once these facilities start to open: You start to really find out by a guy's work ethic, his commitment to the classroom work, how involved in everything that's going on around the organization," Harrison said. 

"And then you start to see, you know what, this guy has been really consistent. Maybe we vote him a captain. And a couple guys start communicating, and before you know it you have two or three or four leaders that emerged that normally wouldn't have been leaders."

Can leadership and Belichick's coaching make up for the Patriots' talent drop-off in 2020? If New England finishes above .500, we'll have our answer.