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Setting the Patriots Offseason Narrative

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Nobody knows what the offseason will hold for the Patriots. But we do know what the storylines will be.

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Free Agency is just a few weeks away, and the initial frenzy of signing players, letting players go, and spinning whatever our team does as the right move while criticizing other teams for doing the exact same thing is almost upon us. This is both an exciting and depressing time on the NFL calendar, as we welcome new guys into the fold while watching some of our old favorites sign elsewhere.

For Patriots fans, Free Agency has usually been a “hurry up and wait” kind of scenario, as New England rarely makes big splashes. Bill Belichick likes to let the market settle, allow the big money to be doled out, and then target specific players based on fit and overall ability. For the most part, it has worked out very well, but it’s not a super exciting time compared to fans of the other teams who always seem to get the sexiest free agent.

This year, though, will represent one of the most impactful Free Agency periods in team history.

In case you haven’t heard, Tom Brady will be a free agent this March, and he has been linked to almost every team in the entire league at this point. The general consensus is that Brady will be back, but ultimately you never know, and whatever Tommy B decides to do, he’s going to do what’s best for him. It’s been on everyone’s mind for a month now, and you get speculation everywhere you look, but at the end of the day we’re not going to know anything until it actually happens.

What we already know, though, is what the storyline will be. Or at least, we know what the storyline will be depending on how New England’s offseason shakes out.

The 21st Century Patriots, to a good chunk of the media, represent one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books where no matter what you decide, you end up dead and never reach a happy ending. Nothing is ever good enough, no decision is the right one, and even when they win, it wasn’t the right way. And regardless of how the next few weeks/months shake out, I don’t see that changing here.

The way I see it, the national narrative surrounding the Patriots is going to go one of four ways, depending on how the teams treats the next few weeks of Free Agency. I figured it would save us all a lot of time and stress to just get them all here in one place so we can get outside and enjoy Spring and Summer when they arrive. You’re welcome.

The Patriots let the greatest quarterback of all time and the man who built a dynasty walk over money and it’s disgraceful.

If Tom Brady decides to play somewhere else, if he’d like to finish his career with another team and take top dollar while proving he can win anywhere, not just New England, he has more than earned that right and I’ll be happy for him. Whatever Tom Brady wants to do with the rest of his career, you shouldn’t hear a single Patriots fan give him any guff for it.

That shouldn’t stop the media, though. If Brady does walk, it’s because of arrogance, stupidity, and the stubbornness of the head coach, who undoubtedly now hates Robert Kraft after they got into a massive blowout over keeping Tom Brady. The animosity will be irreparable and that kind of bad blood is sure to infect the locker room. The complete implosion of this team has already started and Brady hasn’t even cleaned out his locker yet.

But maybe Brady is coming back. Maybe he’ll be on the team next year. And if that’s the case...

The Patriots are living in the past and backing a lame horse.

Brady has always taken less money in order to put himself and the team in the best possible position to win. His team-friendly contracts are long-established, which of course has been spun as the Patriots being cheap and disrespectful for not paying him what he’s worth. If Brady decides that he doesn’t want to take a team-friendly deal this time around, more power to him; he has brought six championships to One Patriot Place, and if it’s time for him to get his, then rock on. Maybe the Patriots decide to honor Brady’s past sacrifices by paying him top dollar.

Which is the worst thing the team could do, of course. Brady is washed up, after all, and it’s time to move on. Brady is the GOAT, no doubt about it, but nobody can play forever, and the Patriots just completely crippled the franchise by wasting valuable cap money on a man well past his prime. Bill Belichick has always been the kind of coach to cut bait a year before a player declines, so this is clearly Robert Kraft’s doing. This deal is proof positive that Bill Belichick undoubtedly now hates Robert Kraft after they got into a massive blowout over keeping Tom Brady. The animosity will be irreparable and that kind of bad blood is sure to infect the locker room. The complete implosion of this team has already started and Brady hasn’t even reported for OTAs yet - unless he decides to be a selfish ass and skip OTAs, which is a whole new issue for this embarrassing team.

But maybe Brady comes back, and maybe he comes back on another year-to-year, flexible, team-friendly deal. If that happens...

The Patriots are deceiving Tom Brady and ruining his chances of going out on top.

What if Free Agency is a full 24 hours old and the Patriots haven’t made any big splashes yet? What if the trade for Stefon Diggs doesn’t go through? What if the only FAs they sign are a backup guard and another cornerback? What we’ll have then is the Pats once again sticking it to Tommy B, only much worse: this time, they flat-out lied to him in order to dupe him into coming back. They told him they’d get him weapons. They’d assemble a dynamic offense. They’d give him every possible chance to get that seventh ring. And yet, here we are, days into Free Agency, and all the best players are already gone. Sources close to Brady will undoubtedly report that he’s “seething” over the lack of moves made by the Patriots, and that “Bill Belichick has completely lost his trust.” Brady will undoubtedly go to Robert Kraft to complain about signing a contract under false pretext, and Kraft will then go to Belichick to question his personnel moves. Kraft and Belichick will then get into a massive blowout over keeping Tom Brady. The animosity will be irreparable and that kind of bad blood is sure to infect the locker room. The complete implosion of this team has already started and the ink on Brady’s new deal isn’t even dry yet.

But maybe they go out and they make a few moves and sign some key players. Maybe the team starts to take shape right away and looks like it will have a potent offense in 2020, complete with a new QB contract and some shiny new toy. If that ends up happening...

The Patriots are all in on this last season for Brady; if they don’t win the Super Bowl, it’s a complete embarrassment.

The message is clear: the Patriots are going all in on the 2020 season, It’s Super Bowl or bust for them, based on the moves they’re making. If they don’t win it all this year, it might be the biggest stain on Bill Belichick’s legacy ever. After all, he’s never had a team this talented, save for maybe the 2007 squad, and there’s just no reason why New England shouldn’t go to the Super Bowl based on this roster. They better hope so, at least, because they clearly mortgaged their entire future on getting Brady one more ring and are going to be terrible for years now based on the money they have doled out and the draft picks they have traded away. Anything less than another Lombardi Trophy this year is total failure, plain and simple, and maybe the game has passed Belichick by. Robert Kraft is rumored to be “very unhappy” with the cap strain and long-term outlook of this team, which then led to a massive blowout with Bill Belichick over keeping Tom Brady. The animosity will be irreparable and that kind of bad blood is sure to infect the locker room. The complete implosion of this team has already started and the new free agents haven’t even reported to mini-camp yet.

So what’s it going to be? What will the Patriots have done to screw both themselves and their quarterback over? Only time will tell!