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Tuesday Patriots Notebook 3/19: News and Notes

The Patriots still find themselves in a tough spot when it comes to offensive tackle heading into week two of free agency.

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
March 19, 2024 at 1:56 pm ET

Tuesday Patriots Notebook 3/19: News and Notes(PHOTO: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

Some Patriots news for this morning:

Tackle Remains a Key Question Mark

While the Patriots have made some key re-signings and added a couple of depth players, the club still finds itself in a tough spot when it comes to the offensive tackle position heading into week two of free agency.

Most of the big names came off the board fairly early on this year.  Jonah Williams was among the most notable, with the former Bengals tackle signing with Arizona after agreeing to  a 2-year, $30 million deal.  Jermaine Eluemunor left the Raiders and went to the Giants, agreeing to a 2-year, $14 million deal.

Another one, Tyron Smith, recently came off the board, but as desperate as the Patriots are, that would have been a tough one to justify.  The 33-year-old has had issues staying on the field, having not played a full season since 2015.  He’s appeared in 11, 4, and 13 games, respectively, since 2021, and is clearly on the wrong side of 30 for a player at his position.

More importantly, for a team that struggled as it was with continuity up front in 2023, he’s likely not the answer the Patriots are looking for.  Even on a potential one-year deal.

Mekhi Becton is an interesting possibility.  However, the embattled former Jets offensive lineman has had his own issues staying healthy and has battled with his weight, which is probably why the former first-round pick is still available. Despite a recent visit to Cincinnati, he appears to still be looking for a home, and he’ll remain a name to keep an eye on.

Trent Brown

(PHOTO: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

Trent Brown remains a free agent, however, he made it clear ahead of the offseason that he likely wouldn’t be returning to the Patriots.  He’s another option the Bengals are potentially said to be looking at, and he’s probably the most qualified name still available.

Overall, it’s been a less-than-stellar free-agent class, although the Patriots did manage to grab a possible stop-gap option.  The club signed Steelers free-agent Chukwuma Okorafor last week, who is considered to be a serviceable starter and likely will be in the mix.  However, another unknown is Calvin Anderson, who has made it known all offseason that he’s on a mission to get back to where he was prior to the illness that sidelined him in 2023.

Having a player with that kind of motivation is never a bad thing, and it’s possible he could end up being the X-factor and full the role they hoped he would last year this fall.

Tyrone Wheatley Jr., who also sat out last season, could also be a factor.

Meanwhile, the draft is one of the deepest ones at that position in years.  Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft has him seeing seven offensive tackles come off the board in round one, with quite a few names also expected to be available in round two.

That’s likely where the Patriots will turn their attention, albeit they’ve got a lot of needs and only so many selections.  However, after quarterback, tackle and receiver are their two most glaring needs.

For now, this has been a tough free-agent class, and it’s unfortunate they weren’t able to pluck any of the top names off the shelf and bring them to Foxboro.

Unfortunately, when you hit rock bottom, it’s often still tough to get high-profile players to follow the money, especially when there are multiple suitors. Calvin Ridley was clearly a big reminder of how true that ended up being despite the amount he was offered by New England.

He made it obvious the Patriots weren’t his preference, failing to even mention them in his opening press conference in Tennessee, instead talking about his old team – the Jaguars – who offered less than New England.

Hopefully, they’ll at least hit on guys who will help turn that around next month.

(PHOTO: Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports)

Interesting Take on QBs By Brooks

Bucky Brooks had an interesting take on Monday night, with Brooks pointing out something that some here in New England probably agree with.

Given the amount of quarterbacks taken at the top of the draft board every year and how few of them pan out, Brooks believes that some of the fault has to fall on the NFL when it comes to both the evaluation and the development of some of those players.

Brooks was replying to a stat posted by NFL researcher Dante Koplowitz-Fleming, who noted that from 2021-2022 there were 19 quarterbacks selected in the draft, with only 2 of those players expected to start in Week 1 next season.

Brooks believes that the NFL needs to try and help fix what he believes is a “revolving door” of players at that position, and it’s going to remain an issue if the league doesn’t stop blaming the players and takes some accountability while also trying to improve.

“The NFL has a QB evaluation and development problem. There’s no other way to spin it,” wrote Brooks on X.  “The league doesn’t know what leads to success at the position. And coaches do not know how to play around a QB’s flaws. Until those issues are fixed, we will continue to see a revolving door at the position… At some point, we can’t keep blaming the players. This is what HS and colleges are producing. It’s time for the league to adapt and adjust.”

Obviously, there are some here who believe that not all of the blame falls on Mac Jones for his failures here in New England, but it’s clearly an issue that goes beyond Jones.

The main issue is figuring out how to resolve it, and that’s a tricky situation.  Some guys are self-starters and are willing to put in the work.  Some guys don’t take criticism well and require being handled a certain way.

For others, it sometimes is a situation where both their physical attributes or abilities simply aren’t up to snuff.  If the ability is there but they’re not physically where they need to be, the next question is whether or not they’re being given the proper help from that standpoint to get them there.

It’s an interesting discussion, and there’s no question that today’s players are different from those of the past.  However, the point that so few guys pan out in this league remains true, and it will be interesting to see if it’s ever seriously addressed.

Considering that more and more big names are retiring and not as many are coming up, it may certainly be a bigger issue than the NFL truly realizes. Tom Brady is the biggest name to have left in recent years, while Aaron Rodgers will likely be one of the next ones gone in the not-so-distant future.

Russell Wilson will likely be out soon also, joining other guys like Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and other former Super Bowl winners, including Peyton Manning, among names who have walked away in recent years.

If they’re not replaced, it dilutes the league.  And it’s hard to deny that the number of talented passers isn’t what it once was, and it may indeed continue to be a problem if something isn’t done.

Odds and Ends

Getting back to Kiper’s pick for the Patriots in his latest mock that came out this morning, he went with Drake Maye, with both Caleb Williams (#1) and Jayden Daniels (#2) going ahead of him.  However, Kiper isn’t sure if the Patriots will stay here and take Maye. “New England wouldn’t pass up a quarterback here, right? I’m not as confident as I was before free agency began,” he writes.  He notes the need for more draft capital and feels they may already be looking to 2025.  He also wonders if the Giants may be the team who might make the biggest offer to sway the Patriots out of their slot. … New head coach Jerod Mayo apparently made a big impression on Antonio Gibson.  “Definitely a different vibe from a head coach … it sounded like he was talking to one of the guys,” said Gibson via ESPN. “I feel like that’s something that might be a positive thing in the locker room for him to be able to relate and communicate like that, and kind of understanding both sides of it. Also, he brought my daughter into the office and treated her with love. I appreciated that, for sure, especially the first time meeting him.” … The Patriots could use some help in the secondary and Stephon Gilmore remains among the best players available.  MassLive’s Karen Guregian believes he’d be the perfect guy to mentor this young group.  The problem might be is given how things went at the end if he’d be willing to come back, albeit, it’s now a different regime so that might change things.  Interestingly enough, Guregian was told, “a source told MassLive the veteran corner was open to all options, including another go-round with the Patriots.”

READ NEXT:
Does the NFL Deserve Blame For Lack of QB Development?

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bucky Brooks

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