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#PostPulpit Mailbag: What is the most Bill Belichick-move the Patriots can make this offseason?

Related: #PostPulpit Mailbag: Which NFL Draft prospects will be available at pick No. 15?

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NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Super Bowl week and we are back with a brand new #PostPulpit mailbag. We’ll talk free agency targets and NFL Draft crushes for the New England Patriots, as well as Bill Belichick’s future and past GM decisions. Let’s jump in:

@ISB_Jay What is the most Bill Belichick move this offseason?

This question was easy to me: trade down in the first round of the draft. And while you might have read that and immediately rolled your eyes, a trade-down from No. 15 might be in the Patriots’ best interests. By the time pick No. 15 rolls around, there’s a high chance the top four quarterbacks, top three wide receivers and the top tight end are all selected. That leaves the Patriots either having to reach for a player at those positions, or selecting from the deep and talented linebacker, cornerback, and offensive tackle class.

Looking at each spot, the Patriots could fall back into the later teens or 20s and still have a chance for a linebacker like Zaven Collins or offensive tackle such as Rashawn Slater — two players that fit their current needs. By moving back, the Patriots could also recoup the third-round pick (and potentially more) they lost due to the Cincinnati Bengals filming fiasco in the process. The Patriots need as much youth talent as possible and a move back would allow them to add even more.

@Joe_YadaYada Who do you think will be the Patriots 2021 starting QB? And will the Pats resign Trent Brown?

The Patriots’ quarterback options have started to dwindle as Matt Stafford and Jared Goff are off the board. They still will be able to make a move in the draft or go the veteran route with a player like Ryan Fitzpatrick or re-upping with Cam Newton.

The one name that keeps coming to my mind is a reunion with Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s not my first choice, but as the reports continue to rumble of the San Francisco 49ers looking elsewhere for a quarterback, it looks like Jimmy G could be headed elsewhere. If New England was to acquire Garoppolo before June 1st, they would take on the remaining two years, $50 million contract, with cap hits of $25 million in ‘21 and $25.6 million in ‘22 (none guaranteed).

As for Trent Brown, the Patriots should definitely be interested in a reunion. Brown was extremely impressive in his lone season in Foxboro and the Patriots’ tackle depth chart has some serious question marks. Isaiah Wynn’s health is always a factor, Marcus Cannon’s future is foggy, and Justin Herron played well in limited action last year, but is he ready for a full-time starting gig? The Patriots do have Michael Onwenu who impressed at right tackle in his rookie season, but the likely Joe Thuney departure should kick him inside to his natural guard position. New England will definitely bring in a tackle or two this offseason and Brown could be at the top of the list if made available.

@matt_murden Which wide receivers do you want to see us sign through FA, draft or via trade?

It’s up in the air if the Patriots will pay a player like Allen Robinson or Chris Godwin $20-plus million per year, so we’ll focus on the secondary market for now. A player like Corey Davis around $12.5 million AAV seems would be a welcome addition to the offense. Tim Patrick (restricted free agent) would also be a strong upgrade to the depth chart - for under $10 million AAV — if the Denver Broncos plan to move on.

As for the draft, Jaylen Waddle would be my preference through the draft, considering LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase is the first receiver taken off the board. Waddle’s speed would add a dynamic element that is rare in any offense in the league.

@TeamCrazyMatt There’s been a lot of discussion about acquisitions, but which Patriots could you see being traded away from New England?

The two names to watch both fall in the secondary: Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson. Starting with Gilmore, everything stated in last week’s mailbag remains the same:

Gilmore will enter this offseason as a 30-year-old in need of a raise. Gilmore is set to make just $7.5 million next season as the Patriots accelerated his bonuses each of the last three seasons. A two-year, $31.5 million extension would raise his contract to a three-year, $39 million deal ($13 million annually). If Gilmore wants a longer or most lucrative commitment, that’s when a deal could occur. New England will most likely recoup a second-round pick in any deal, as the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year would most likely have already been dealt last summer or at the deadline if a team was willing to pony up a first-round selection.

The case for Jackson is quite different. Jackson will enter the offseason as a restricted free agent who most likely receive a first- or second-round tender. If a team signs Jackson to a lucrative contract, the Patriots might feel the earlier draft pick would be more worthwhile than matching the deal. The 25-year-old Jackson could also be a popular piece in trade talks with teams like Houston, who reportedly want two defensive players to pair with draft picks in return for Deshaun Watson.

The Patriots would certainly be better off with both Gilmore and Jackson roaming their secondary in 2021, but the situation to move on from both may be presented.

@BostonCommenter Rodney Harrison thinks Belichick resigning Cam Newton would be his worst decision ever. What are your top 3 worst Belichick decisions ever?

To start, resigning Cam Newton would not be Belichick’s “worst decision ever.” Back to the question, it’s a complex one to break down. It’s easy to break things down in hindsight, like selecting Derek Rivers the pick before Chris Godwin in 2017, or some of the earlier draft selections like Jordan Richards or Dominique Easley. Either way, here’s three that came to my mind:

  1. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s succession plan: Everyone around the Patriots knew the two greats’ time was winding down after Super Bowl 52. With Gronk mulling retirement and Brady reportedly preparing for a breakup, the Patriots planning for the two’s departure was not great. Since Gronk’s retirement after Super Bowl 53, the Patriots have gotten zero production from the tight end position. And when Brady departed last March, the Patriots had to resort to Cam Newton who was signed in July.
  2. Signing Adalius Thomas: Thomas was a good player but never fit in New England after his strong first season. The five-year, $35 million contract he signed in 2007 was the highest-priced free-agent acquisition in team history. The marriage quickly soured, as Thomas publicized his issues with the coaching staff and was eventually released after three seasons.
  3. Trading for Chad Jackson: You might think the Albert Haynesworth or Chad Ochocinco trades were more of failures, but New England only dealt a pair of fifth-rounders and a sixth-rounder to acquire the veterans. While they certainly did not impress through their tenure, neither did Jackson and the Patriots traded their second- and third-round picks to move up to take the receiver.

This was a harder question to answer than I thought it’d be and I'd love to hear everyone’s else answers. Leave your answer below or tweet them to me here.

@arcalpha25 what are your draft crushes?

Anybody who has followed along with me this season knows I am in love with Zach Wilson. Sticking with quarterbacks, I am also a big fan of Trey Lance. Exploring some “crushes” that are lesser known names at other positions: North Carolina wide recevier Dazz Newsome, Iowa interior defensive lineman Daviyon Nixon, and Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone. Also, I would love the Patriots to pick up Houston receiver Marquez Stevenson in a later round.

@ColinBelshaw6 Do U think we should move up for fields/Wilson and how much would u be willing to move up to the 3rd,4th, or 5th overall pick

If the Patriots truly feel one of the top quarterbacks available is a franchise talent they should absolutely move up to draft them if possible. Moving up that far will require a major package however — one that would start with No. 15 overall this year as well as New England’s first round pick next year. For comparison, the Rams traded two firsts, two seconds and two thirds to move up to No. 1 from No. 16 overall to select Jared Goff back in 2016.

@ajclauss3 Which QB would you prefer out of these options: Cam Newton, Jacoby Brissett or Ryan Fitzpatrick?

Considering they all cost the same price and are paired with a rookie quarterback: Cam Newton.

@recap_boy What you think of this draft for linebackers?

This year’s linebacker’s class is quite strong and full of the new “hybrid model” linebackers that seem to be taking the league by storm. That is great news for the Patriots who certainly need to add some youth and athleticism at the position. Some potential first-round fits consist of Micah Parsons, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Zaven Collins; while some day two fits are Dylan Moses, Cameron McGrone, Chazz Surratt, Jabril Cox, and Baron Browning. If Bill Belichick prefers another one of his old-school “thumpers”, Nick Bolton and Pete Werner fit the bill.

@GilletteLot15 do we hear seymours name for the gold jacket sat feb 6th

Richard Seymour absolutely deserves to be elected into the Hall of Fame. He was a dominant defensive tackle throughout his career and was one of the most important figures on the Patriots’ first three Super Bowl rosters. Even though he deserves it, I just have a feeling he won’t be fitted for his gold jacket this time around.

@GetTheseWinners What is the monthly electric bill @GilletteStadium since they never seem to shut the lights off

Well, Gillette Stadium did partner with Enel X in 2019 to reduce their electricity costs, but they do seem to never turn those lights off. On an unrelated note, after the vaccinations are completed inside the stadium, let's hope we can get back to Gillette for some football in 2021.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.If you have questions you’d liked to be answered in the next mailbag, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!