Luckily for everyone here, it's a little too early in the offseason for the inevitable onslaught of "Tom Brady's window is closing" articles. The way I see it, we still have a few months of Brady-free news in that respect, and I for one plan on enjoying every minute of it (almost as much as I'm enjoying the complete lack of articles about Peyton Manning. Good luck spinning that Super Bowl performance, you lackeys).
That said, and as annoying as the articles decrying Brady's age are, they speak the truth: Tom Brady has a very limited window to win another Super Bowl. He already has three, and if he wins one more he will not only be tied with his childhood idol Joe Montana for most championships won by a QB, but he will also have done so having played in the most Super Bowls of any quarterback in history and will very much be in the running for the greatest QB - and perhaps player - of all time. So while winning another ring carries enough weight as it is, this maddeningly elusive fourth ring is perhaps the most important one of all.
And because of that, I can't help but wonder if it's time to stop doing what has been working so well for the Patriots this past century and maybe take a gamble on some immediate gratification. Maybe it's time to worry about winning now and nothing else.
Free agency is right around the corner, and we all know the drill: the Patriots will sit back, bide their time, bring in a few value guys, and bring back those departing players that can still provide value to the team. Anyone who has been following the Pats for the last 15 years or so knows this as well as anybody; after all, if it ain't broke, why fix it? One of the main reasons that the Pats have been so consistently successful in an era designed for parity is because they value team over talent, character over charisma, and effort over electricity. They very rarely spend big money on premier free agents or pull off blockbuster trades that bring the hottest names onto the team. They don't throw around cash or build a squad for the immediate future; rather they always have next season in mind, work hard to sign the players that will work well as a cohesive unit, and aren't influenced one way or another by what goes on around the league. And for the most part, it's hard to argue with the results. They have been to the playoffs 11 of the past 14 years, made it to eight AFC Championship Games, and are a miracle catch and a freak drop away from winning 5 Super Bowls. Sure, it has been a while since the Patriots got to hoist a Lombardi trophy, but they have hands down been the most successful team of the 21st Century in terms of overall performance and it isn't even close - so spare me the "they can't win the big one" arguments. Two crazy plays does not a man make.
So to suggest that maybe - just maybe - it might be time to change that strategy up and focus solely on building the strongest possible 2014 roster and nothing else seems absolutely crazy.
This is a strategy you see teams across all sports adopt from time to time: mortgage the future for the present, sacrifice the later for the now, and build a championship caliber squad that is title or bust all the way. Sometimes it's successful, sometimes it isn't, and the aftermath of said seasons ranges from disastrous to only a somewhat minor setback, depending on the strength of the front office. New England has never been the team to take this kind of chance, and to be honest, they probably never will be. But that doesn't mean that the possibility isn't there. By all accounts, the Patriots could make some moves, trade a bunch of draft picks, present and future, cut some guys, and stack this team to the gills with talent on both sides of the ball to give not only Tommy B, but Bill Belichick, the best possible chance to leave his indelible mark on the game.
Obviously, even adopting this strategy doesn't guarantee anything, and at the end of the day to even broach the subject is little more than a pipe dream and the borderline-nonsensical ramblings of a man who is bored at work and decided to celebrate the Oreo Cookie's 101st Birthday by taking down an entire sleeve of limited edition birthday cake frosted Oreos, but I will say this: if I had the opportunity to get Tom Brady one more Super Bowl ring within the next two years at the cost of the Patriots being absolutely terrible for a few years after, I personally would take that tradeoff every time. Tommy B only has a few seasons left in the league (I'm thinking maybe two years, three if we're lucky), and his is a talent that comes along once in a generation. When Brady retires, he will leave a void that will take a very, very long time to fill, and woe to the poor schlub who has to replace him. If new England wants to break the bank to get him an All Star squad with the knowledge that 2016 is likely to be a three win season, I'm not going to say anything.
Ultimately, it's all pretty much a moot point: it's just not going to happen. Furthermore, 2014 doesn't seem to be the year that the Patriots could frontload the team even if they wanted to. They don't have a lot of cap room, there aren't really that many elite studs out there on the market, and while they could always find a way to clear up a bunch of space, it would be extremely difficult to make it work. But all of this recent talk of Larry Fitzgerald and Darrelle Revis and Jairus Byrd and Red Bryant and Jared Allen and Emmanuel Sanders and James Jones and Michael Johnson and whoever else you want to attach to this team has got me thinking that it might not be so bad if the Patriots deviate from the norm for once, for the sake of one last ride towards immortality.