Just like last year, the New England Patriots suffered some major losses in free agency: six members of their 2018 championship squad left through the open market so far — including standout defensive edge Trey Flowers, who signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Detroit Lions, and starting left tackle Trent Brown, who joined the Oakland Raiders on a record-breaking four-year, $66 million contract.
It is therefore not all that surprising to find out that New England’s followers don’t think free agency was too kind to the team: according to our latest FanPulse survey (sign up here!), only 15% of Patriots fans thought that the team improved since the start of the new league year two weeks ago — the worst number of all the 32 fanbases polled:
New England Patriots: 15%
Miami Dolphins: 29%
Minnesota Vikings: 42%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 53%
Houston Texans: 54%
As can be seen, two AFC East clubs share the bottom spot when it comes to positive answers to the question whether or not the respective team got better over the course of free agency. From neither fanbase’s perspective, this is a surprise: the Patriots, as mentioned above, lost some key figures through the open market (plus tight end Rob Gronkowski to retirement last week) while the Dolphins are in full-on rebuilding mode.
The rest of the division’s fans, for comparison, view free agency in a different light: 98% of Buffalo Bills followers polled thought that their team improved through the open market while a stunning 100% of New York Jets fans voted that the club got better. Of course, as Bill Belichick pointed out during the NFL’s coaches breakfast earlier this week, it is still only March and a lot happens between now and the time competitive football is played again.
For the Patriots, this means that they have more than five months to fill the shortcomings on their current roster — and fans have confidence in the team’s ability to do just that: according to FanPulse, 78% view the direction New England is heading in as positive. So even after a bad free agency, fans trust Belichick and company to get the team to the level it needs to be at to defend the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2019.
If you are interested in participating in our FanPulse survey, please click here!