The New England Patriots' offseason isn't exactly getting rave reviews.
After NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran flunked the Patriots on his offseason report card, ESPN's Bill Barnwell did the same on Monday. Barnwell ranked New England's offseason as the third-worst in the entire NFL.
Here's how Barnwell explained that ranking:
The Patriots had Brady at quarterback, and now they have Jarrett Stidham. Even a diminished Brady would still project to be a playoff-caliber quarterback with the sort of defense this team had in 2019; the same thing isn't clear with Stidham, who appears to be the Week 1 starter. Losing Brady is one thing, but the Pats neglecting to make a meaningful move for someone like Andy Dalton seems shortsighted and stubborn.
Franchising (Joe) Thuney means New England has a league-high $28.6 million of its cap committed to guards in 2020, nearly $7 million more than any other team. The Thuney tag cost the Patriots valuable cap space and eliminated their leverage in dealing with Rob Gronkowski when he wanted to return, forcing them to trade their legendary tight end to the Bucs for a midround pick. The Pats also lost three members of their starting front seven with Collins, Van Noy and defensive tackle Danny Shelton leaving town. While I have faith Belichick will replace those guys in the long term, the defense should take a step backward in 2020.
All fair points, but the Patriots' non-pursuit of Dalton had more to do with their faith in Stidham than simply being "shortsighted and stubborn." Not to mention, New England hasn't really been in a position to make a major free agency move due to their lack of cap room.
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As for Gronkowski, it has become pretty clear that he was heading wherever Tom Brady was going, and that turned out to be Tampa Bay.
It hasn't been an offseason to remember for the Patriots, but we've been down this road before. For the last 20 years, Bill Belichick has had a knack for making these poor offseason grades look pretty silly.
Of course, he's had Brady by his side the entire way. So we'll just have to wait and see how things play out without the six-time Super Bowl champion under center.