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Sunday NFL Thoughts: Offensive Line Changes, Coaching Needs, Contract Bargains

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1. The New England Patriots have let offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo's contract expire and it's incredible how far his star has fallen. Just last year some (*raises hand*) were lauding his ability to fix the problems that reared their heads with the line after the Kansas City game. The line suffered a little down the stretch when left guard Dan Connolly went down with an injury, but the playoff line was good enough to win a Super Bowl.

No one thought that DeGuglielmo was ever going to be the next Dante Scarnecchia, but he was doing a pretty good job in his stead.

2. The Patriots rarely seem to let coaches expire without a promotion. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees is one of the last to come to mind, when he moved to Baltimore to become the linebackers coach. Others seem to depart when they want more opportunities, like defensive coaches Pepper Johnson and Patrick Graham, and offensive coach (since returned) Brian Daboll.

3. Can we talk about why DeGuglielmo was such a terrible fit in New England? The 2004-2008 New York Giants were extremely run heavy offenses with either Tiki Barber or a deep rotation with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Brashaw. The 2009-2011 Miami Dolphins were Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Reggie Bush.

The 2012 New York Jets put together the 10th worst rushing attack in the league, but ranked 6th in attempts. DeGuglielmo rarely worked within an offense with a quarterback that could complete a pass, never mind one that could revolve around a passing game.

The next Patriots offensive line will need to have a background in a passing offense.

4. The Patriots also need to find another linebacker and strength & conditioning coach. Linebackers are the most important position in a Bill Belichick defense, the offensive line has been a major make-or-break unit for the Patriots over the past decade, and the strength & conditioning has been awful over the past five seasons. The future of these roles will be interesting to follow.

5. The Chiefs have signed tight end Travis Kelce to a 5-year, $46 million contract. The Eagles signed tight end Zach Ertz to a 5-year, $42.5 million contract. Last season, the Jaguars signed tight end Julius Thomas to a 5-year, $46 million contract. The Seahawks are on the hook for tight end Jimmy Graham's 4-year, $40 million contract.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is under a contract for $9 million per season. He's twice the tight end of any of these other players, and he's being paid middle-of-the-pack cash for his production. The best part, for the Patriots, is that Gronkowski will be under contract through the 2019 season, which means that Gronk will be a bargain for seasons to come.

We often talk about the cap space that quarterback Tom Brady offers by playing below market value. While the contract wasn't necessarily team-friendly when Gronkowski signed back in 2012, the current landscape shows how the risk paid off for the Patriots team building process.