Coaching changes, draft preparation, free agency predictions. The NFL offseason ramping up as 30 teams have now kicked off their offseason.
So, let’s waste no time and get into this week’s #PostPulpit Mailbag.
@MacToHenrySZN Who do you think the Pats should target for a WR1
Acquiring a true go-to guy for Mac Jones this offseason should be priority No. 1 for the New England Patriots. To me, there’s one obvious choice here, but another that could earn consideration, and they both revolve around the No. 21 overall pick the Patriots hold in the upcoming draft.
First, it would be to draft a receiver with the 21st overall pick. Looking mainly at the two receivers from both Ohio State and Alabama, any of the four would make great fits within the Patriots’ offense. My preference remains Ohio State’s Chris Olave, but maybe New England could luck out and snag Jameson Williams or John Metchie later on, as both suffered torn ACLs near the end of the season.
Identifying which prospect fits the offense the best and drafting them makes the most sense in my opinion, especially as New England is not operating with the financial benefits they had last offseason. But, another move that could be on the radar is trading that same pick for a proven veteran, such as Calvin Ridley.
The Patriots nearly selected Ridley in the 2018 NFL Draft, so the fit is there. Acquiring the 26-year old’s services will likely require that first-round selection, but it will be interesting to see how the trade market unfolds for the receiver. To start, priority number one is to make sure Ridley will return this season after only playing five games last year due to mental health issues. Plus, Ridley is set to pay this year on his fifth-year option, so he will likely be looking for a lucrative contract extension. The fit is there, but there are hurdles to avoid as well, which might make drafting Mac’s go-to guy the best option.
@PatPatriotMX Do you think the Pats will be ok with drafting Metchie III knowing the delay for the rehab can be compensated with the familiarity he already have with Mac?
Speaking of Metchie, pairing him and Mac would be a home-run move for the Patriots, especially with the possibility of him sliding to day two. Now, with the torn ACL he suffered in the SEC Championship Game, patience will obviously be the key word. The team realistically wouldn't be able to count on him next season. But, Metchie may be the best fit for the Patriots in the draft due to his route tree and chemistry with Mac. He may be worth being patient for.
@Collin_Demo Which patriots on D do we expect to be gone next season? McCourty? Hightower? JC$
The biggest question is J.C. Jackson. After perhaps his best season as a pro - operating as a true No. 1 cornerback - Jackson will receive a bag one way or another this offseason. For a team that loves to play man-to-man, losing Jackson seems like it would be a disastrous move, especially with limited depth behind him. But, perhaps reallocating the nearly $20 million annually he’d earn to other spots of the roster would benefit New England even more. Another thought could be to pay two veteran cornerbacks with that money to bolster depth, or even use an early pick in this upcoming draft on their next shutdown corner.
As for Hightower — and we’ll group Bentley in with him for this discussion — losing them both would mean the Patriots need to replace a ton of snaps from last season. Unless a team throws a lucrative offer at Bentley, I’d expect the Patriots to try and retain his services. He fits Belichick’s style as a hard-hitting MIKE linebacker and has improved each and every year. As for Hightower, it’s clear he is no longer a three-down linebacker, but could still have an early down role. If he does not retire, perhaps a team-friendly one-year deal could be in place.
On to McCourty, who reportedly plans to play next season, he should absolutely be in the Patriots’ plans. Like Hightower, McCourty is obviously not the player he once was, but still had a very strong season while playing 94 percent of the defensive snaps. Now, that shouldn't stop them from potentially drafting or acquiring his potential replacement, but having McCourty back would be a plus for the Patriots.
@Whitlockplssave WILL WE DRAFT DEVIN LLOYD
I DON’T KNOW (why are we shouting?).
Lloyd is extremely talented linebacker and will probably be the first from the position taken in the draft. He has some downhill thumper to him in the run game and has that ‘new-school’ athleticism at the linebacker position. He also weighs in over 230 pounds, which aligns with the athletic linebackers (Cameron McGrone) Belichick has selected the past few years.
As of where we sit now in January, Lloyd likely won't be on the board when the Patriots first selection comes up at No. 21 overall. Personally, I think Penn State’s Brandon Smith or Alabama's Christian Harris — maybe even Wyoming’s Chad Muma — are players to watch at the position on day two.
@DanielF29405641 What Saints players are worth going after?
After Sean Payton announced his “retirement” earlier this week, it looks like the Saints are headed towards a full-blown fire sale. While the sexy names like Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, and Cameron Jordan will be heavily talked about, some of the cheaper vets will likely be the targets (if they’re some). Linebacker Demario Davis is one player I’d have on my wishlist. Davis, 33, is on the older side, but remains one of the best cover linebackers in football. He’d certainly be a strong addition to the Patriots’ linebacking unit, especially as he’s only due roughly $7.5 million this season.
@JD33245211 Which players on teams that are either rebuilding or in terrible cap situations have players that the Pats should target in trades?
The Patriots likely won’t be able to pluck many of the “sexy” names like we mentioned above due to the fact that they aren't in a position to really take on any major contracts. Unlike last year, they are not in the top of the league in projected cap space, and have an assortment of their own free agents to take care of.
Besides Davis, one name that came to my mind was Giants’ cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson, 26, had another strong season for the Giants this year — fifth in PFF’s coverage grade — and the Patriots would take on the remaining two years of his contract at a combined $23 million. If J.C. Jackson does depart, Jackson could an extremely strong, and reasonable, replacement.
Let’s go fast:
@TijuanaTrojans Why is mac Jones the best qb in the afc
@patriotsfeeder If you could only pick one between coaching , offense and defense to turn elite in the off season while the others unit remains the same. Which of the three do you pick And would that team be good enough to make a playoff run.
Easy: offense. Just rewatch the Chiefs-Bills game and think about it.
@kyle_vondruke What is the time table for Bills exit? How much precious time do we have left with him and is their an heir apparent?
Complete guess, but I would say two or three more years is a responsible prediction. He could also never stop coaching and I wouldn't be surprised.
@FossCraig What do you think about trading Smith and converting Harry to a move style TE. Obviously he would need to add 10-20 lbs.
Trading Jonnu Smith would leave the Patriots with over $11 million in dead cap. It’s not likely to happen, and Harry switching positions doesn't within the cards either.
@meatface55 100 years ago football was basically just rugby, any speculation on what football looks like in 2122?
Back to rugby. The next coach that can safely implement the downfield lateral in their offense will completely change the game of football.
@TuckerRossCon Do you think Wilkerson will be a bigger part of the team next season and what do you think the Patriots need to do to fix their late-season losses that have come as of late.
I wouldn't expect anything more from Wilkerson as a receiver, but he could see a much bigger role on special teams next season, especially in case Matthew Slater retires. One thing that stood out to me in training camp was watching Wilkerson work with Slater extensively almost everyday in gunner drills.
@thechris104 If Brady & Gronk decide to play their final season together as Patriots, would BB bring ‘em back?
Why has this become a thing? No. Brady is also under contract with Tampa if he decides to play.
@Nichola78428899 I know this will never happen. But chances that Brady and Gronk come back for a real last dance? Mac could learn a lot too!
Nicholas! Stop yourself after the first sentence. It’s not happening, and benching Mac after a full rookie season likely wouldn't help.
@PeteDavisMe Will Gronk retire a Patriot? Will Edelman ever coach? Why does Kyrie think the Earth is flat?
I don't see Gronk retiring a Patriot just based on his departure. If Edelman does decide to coach, it likely won't be for several years. And I cannot speak for whatever it is that goes on in Kyrie Irving’s brain.
@ManMassMaine If brady retires should the Patriots do that sign him to a $1.00 contract to retire a Patriot?
Brady is much more likely to retire a Patriot than Gronk. If he retires this year and they can figure out the financials due to his current contract with Tampa, I would bet Robert Kraft would like him too.
@ajclauss3 Pepsi or Coke?
Coke. I am not a peasant.
That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!