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New England Patriots > Patriots Blog > 2021 NFL Offseason

New England Patriots News 02-21, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
8 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: 2021 NFL Offseason

New England Patriots News 02-21, AFC East NotesSergio Estrada - USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here are your Sunday Patriots news 02-21 and AFC East notes this week. 

Please check out our draft profiles as we inch closer to the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Have you checked out our team news feature for all 32 teams yet? It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on all across the NFL. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL: 

Chase Winovich: The Patriots defensive end has fallen in love with Portsmouth, NH…and vice versa. Winovich began his social media romance with Portsmouth by calling the New Hampshire Seacoast tourist hot spot “the coolest city in the world,” on Twitter last month. 

The next day he tweeted that he was “moving my off-season operations to Portsmouth, it’s so sick here.” And absence, in fact, does make the heart grow fonder. Earlier this week, he again took to Twitter, asking if anybody “would be willing to rent me a house in the Portsmouth area (preferably near the beach) for a very pretty penny and a lifetime of gratitude?”

Well, Portsmouth was definitely paying attention. Winovich was hearing from real estate brokers, the high school football team wants to hire him as an assistant coach, a restaurant wants to create a “Chase Winovich Sandwich, and even the mayor got into the spirit of it all.

In a piece in the “Seacoast Online”, Mayor Rick Becksted has offered to hold a Chase Winovich Day. “Why not,” Becksted said, in regards to having a day to honor the Patriots’ DE. “We can always discuss something. I’ll show him the town. We have a lot of sports bars. I am sure they would love to have a celebrity in town.”

Billy Yates – The former Patriots (2004-2009), backup offensive lineman, who also had stints with the Dolphins and the Browns is coming back to the Patriots as an assistant offensive linemen coach. He spent the past three years with the Lions’ staff but had been with the Patriots in 2015 at training camp as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I recorded a podcast on Friday and talked about the Super Bowl, the Belichick-Brady silly debate, and had the great Patriots historian Bob Hyldburg Jr. aka @BobtheStatman on the pod to talk about his latest book. 

Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

The Patriots QB Question Has to Be Answered ASAP Before Free Agency Pieces Added:

The Patriots’ need for a starting franchise QB is hardly news, a blind man can that. But after the struggles of Cam Newton in 2020 and Tom Brady in 2019, it has become a chicken-or-the-egg debate. Is the QB position (Newton) lacking that badly or is the weakest supporting cast (WRs, TEs), in the NFL to blame?

With Newton and Brian Hoyer free agents and probably unlikely to return, the Patriots have two QBs Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala signed for 2021. Neither has started an NFL game and neither will probably appear in the team’s long-term plans..And despite the team having a gaudy $63,561,690 amount of cap space (courtesy of Miguel aka @patscap) to spend in 2021 during free agency, who wants to play in New England with Stidham or Dolegala throwing the ball to them? 

The fact that the Patriots were eliminated from playoff contention with a few weeks to go in the 2020 season and Stidham didn’t get a start, speaks about how the team views his potential upside

That’s why the team needs to either swing an upcoming trade and announcing it or sign a free agent QB in the opening hours of free agency. And many media members, like fans, have predictions all over the place. ESPN’s Field Yates believes the Patriots may swing a deal for Marcus Mariota, while NBS Sports Boston’s Phil Perry thinks they’ll try to swing a trade with the 49ers to bring Jimmy Garoppolo back to New England. 

Some still cling to the Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and even Aaron Rodgers pipe dreams. The Patriots haven’t ruled out Newton returning this year. Most believe that the Patriots will bring in a veteran bridge QB and still draft a young QB during the upcoming NFL Draft. 

Yates’ assumption actually has more believability in that Mariota is the backup to Derek Carr in Las Vegas and his cap hit of $10,725,000 isn’t going to break the bank. He could probably be had for a mid-round draft pick. Would the Niners trade Garoppolo without having a back-up plan in place? And, given Garoppolo’s injury history, would the Patriots want to invest in a guy that misses far too much time?

But the question of Mariota would be, despite his being a step up at QB, will it be enough to entice free agent WRs and TEs to New England? Look at the recent comments of free-agent TE Hunter Henry. 

In an interview Friday with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Henry said that of course the amount of money he’ll make is important but just as important, he said, is the player at QB.

“I think obviously, you’ve got to look at it financially,” Henry said. “I would be lying to you if I (said), ‘I’m not even going to look at the money,’ or anything like that. That’s part of it. That’s part of our job and everything. But I don’t think it’s all about that.

“I want to play somewhere where there’s a good quarterback. That’s huge for our position. It makes things a lot easier. … Playing with a good quarterback always makes things better. You’ve got to look at both. You’ve got to look at some of the financial stuff but not dive too deep into it that you go chasing it, because I also want to play with a good quarterback.”

With no malice intended toward Stidham and Dolegala, they aren’t going to fit the bill for Henry or anyone else entering free agency. If the Patriots opt for a free agent QB (I’ve been stumping for Ryan Fitzpatrick as a bridge QB), the selling point would be that they will spend a good chunk of free agency cash and draft capital to upgrade the weapons around him. 

So, although we’re preaching to the choir here…this QB situation needs to be ironed out asap. And then, the team can decide how to address bringing in free agents and addressing other needs in the draft. 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Looking to Upgrade TE Position:

The Buffalo Bills offense improved by leaps and bounds in 2020, and the passing game, in particular, was impressive to watch. Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley et.al. were a tough group to stop. But one area of concern was the production from the tight ends (sound familiar Patriots fans? NE TEs combined for 18-254-1TD). 

The trio of Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, and Lee Smith combined for just 40 catches for 442 yards, and eight touchdowns during the 2020 season. Buffalo GM Billy Beane said that the team will look at it for an upgrade in 2021.

“At the end of the day, we’d love to have a guy like what we just faced in Kansas City — they don’t come very often. But that’s what we want. We’ve got some guys here we want to continue to develop and see what happens. Obviously, if there are ways to add competition, whether that’s in free agency or the draft, we would do that, as well.”

Some names in free agency that the Bills may be targeting (as well as New England) include Tennessee TE Jonnu Smith (41 catches, 448 yards, 8 TDs). Philadelphia TE Zach Ertz may become a cap casualty and available in a trade scenario since the Eagles are in a woeful cap situation. And of course, there is the draft, where there are a couple of intriguing options available. 

Miami Expected “To Be in the Mix” for Deshaun Watson:

Miami may not be Tua’s team just yet. In a report from the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the Dolphins will be involved if the Texans do indeed eventually trade QB Deshaun Watson, who has asked to be traded. He has also listed the Dolphins as one of his top destinations to be traded to.

According to a source with direct knowledge, a high-ranking team official has told at least one outsider that the Dolphins expect to be in the mix to acquire Watson if the Texans make him available (which they have not, to this point).

That person said the Dolphins did not indicate what they believe their chances were or what they were willing to offer, but instead merely acknowledged the possibility of Miami acquiring him,Jackson wrote this week.

And if indeed they do decide to make a move for Watson, the Dolphins have plenty of draft capital to use as leverage…as well as Tua. The Dolphins currently have four picks in the first 50 of the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft (#3, 18, 36, and 50). With five other picks later in the draft, that gives them a ton of flexibility. But up to this point, the Texans have been adamant that they are not trading Watson.  

The Jets Are Reportedly Asking A 2nd Round Pick For Sam Darnold:

The New York Jets new coaching staff haven’t committed to Sam Darnold as their QB for 2021 and beyond yet and with the QB carousel in full-blown bloom so far, the team’s asking price is for now standing pat. And if anything, it will increase in the future. 

With Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and now Carson Wentz already dealt this offseason, team needy QBs are having their options whittled down. And with Houston being steadfast in their opposition to trading Deshaun Watson (for now), and Las Vegas seemingly committed to Derek Carr, Sam Darnold’s stock could be rising. 

According to SportsNet New York’s Ralph Vacchiano,  the Jets asking price for Darnold, according to his sources, project to be a second-round pick, plus maybe another mid-to-late rounder.

There are rumors that the 49ers are very interested in Darnold, which would open up the Jimmy G. return to the Patriots rumors circulating. But what puts the Jets in a great position in the draft is the #2 pick which they currently own. Gang Green currently has nine picks in the draft. 

But if the Jets decide to slide back just a few slots in the draft, it would bring them even more capital. Much of it will depend on the Darnold situation, but right now, the Jets are having all the cards turning up in their favor. 

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 


Posted Under: 2021 NFL Offseason
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Deshaun Watson Jarrett Stidham Jimmy Garoppolo Marcus Mariota New England Patriots New York Jets Patriots Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady


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