The New England Patriots didn’t make any big moves yesterday before the 4:00pm trade deadline passed. The Patriots were projected to be sellers, and the names that were floated around were; Joe Thuney, JC Jackson, David Andrews, Marcus Cannon, Stephon Gilmore, and there was even some speculation that Bill Belichick would move on from Cam Newton. Ultimately the Patriots did nothing but add some depth to their wide receiver corps, sending a 7th round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for the Dolphins 2017-7th round draft pick Isaiah Ford. The Patriots will have a tough time trying to dig themselves out of the 2-5 hole they’ve found themselves in, but it’s not too early to start thinking about the 2021 season, and one consideration that the Patriots should make is re-signing Cam Newton.
The first place to look is at the upcoming quarterback market, who is available either in free agency or the Draft, and are any of those options better than Cam Newton?
The short answer is no, the longer answer is more complicated. The Patriots could look at reuniting with former Tom Brady backups like Jacobi Brissett or Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G is not scheduled to be a free agent, but it’s believed that the 49ers want to move on from his contract. Neither quarterback has shown great success starting, and with a price tag that will probably be similar to Cam Newton, at this moment it makes more sense to stick with Newton. People might make the argument that Newton hasn’t been great for the Patriots, and though that’s true, we’ve seen moments where he has played very well, the Buffalo Bills game is a perfect example. His fumble with 37-seconds left is the only thing that’s going to be remembered, but the truth is, outside of the fumble, Newton looked pretty good with the Patriots 2019 undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers being his best target. Outside of Brissett and Garoppolo, the only other quarterbacks are projects that will probably never work out; Mitch Trubisky, Dwayne Haskins, and Sam Darnold, so while looking at the free agent market, Newton is the best option.
The Draft is a whole other situation. Many Patriots fans have adapted the tank matra, but the reality is, the Patriots are too good to fully tank, and they are going to win too many games to be in a position to pick a Trevor Lawrence or a Justin Fields. Granted, Belichick could try to swing a deal and move up in the Draft, and though Belichick has made surprise moves before, the Patriots are a team that usually chooses to stockpile Draft capital, not give it away. So assuming that Belichick isn’t willing to move up, the next available options for the Patriots are not NFL ready quarterbacks, and the Patriots are in a position right now to compete in 2021, especially since Belichick will have about $60 million worth of cap space to work with. Up until now we have not seen how Newton can operate the Patriots offense with a full complement of weapons. Belichick will have the money and the draft capital to find Newton help, and if Newton builds off his strong performance in Buffalo, things should actually start getting better in New England, rather than get worse, even with the probability that the Patriots will miss the playoffs this season.
As I mentioned above, Belichick didn’t significantly improve the team, but he didn’t blow it up either. I took that as meaning he believes his team is in a good position, if not now, by 2021. I’ve already mentioned that the Patriots have a lot of salary cap available for next season, so through the draft and free agency, the Patriots are set up to be very competitive in 2021. That goes against the grain from a lot of fans’ perspective that the Patriots should have sold and tanked, so it’s a fair question to ask, did Bill Belichick make the right decision not selling top Patriots players?
Belichick was open to selling, reports emerged that Belichick was having conversations about trading Stephon Gilmore, but he set a price of a first round draft pick and a player. That was a key indication that Belichick believes the Patriots are not in a position to tank, and he wanted fair compensation to ensure that the Patriots are ready for 2021 and beyond. One of the rumors that were swirling was a possible trade between the Patriots and the New Orleans Saints was Stephon Gilmore for Michael Thomas. If the Saints threw in the first round pick, this trade makes sense. Thomas seems like he needs a change of scenery, and Gilmore would bolster the Saints the defense. But, there is no guarantee Thomas’s attitude changes and he works in New England, so the first round pick would be the insurance policy. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Belichick flip that pick and accumulate more draft capital. This can’t happen now, but it’s something that is still possible heading into the Draft.
Outside of possibly moving Gilmore for a good haul, the Patriots are in a good position to build off their current roster, including Cam Newton. Even though this may sound like a pipe dream, the Patriots season still isn’t officially over, and if they can jump start their season against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, perhaps they could do something similar to what the NFL saw the Tennessee Titans do last season. So, even though some people were frustrated that the Patriots didn’t hold the fire sale some people were predicting, for now it looks like Belichick made the right decision.
The 2020 season is amongst us and for Patriots fans it has not gone that has not the way anybody wanted, but there is still a slight hope for this season, no matter how far fetched that may sound, but the 2021 season looks a lot more promising. Am I being overly optimistic with this piece, probably, but up until now, Bill Belichick has given no reason not to trust him.Tags: Cam Newton, New England Patriots, Patriots, trade deadline Last modified: November 4, 2020