After some record-breaking investments the previous offseason, the New England Patriots were much quieter in 2022. Facing a tough salary cap situation one year removed from an unprecedented spending spree, the Patriots mainly had to look to the draft to help ready the team for the future.
New England started out its offseason with a lot to build on, despite the promise shown in 2021.
The team had a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones, who handled everything thrown his way. It saw some big-money free agents like Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne and Matthew Judon become valuable contributors. A 10-win season and a trip back to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus left fans buzzing regarding the future of the franchise.
However, the Patriots saw some important players move on this offseason and as a result now have to turn the page and find some new core players to build around. They also lost longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and several other assistant coaches on the offensive side of the ball.
Although the Patriots are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to the “Next Man Up” mentality, they are going through this process with a whole new offensive coaching staff.
With McDaniels gone, Joe Judge and Matt Patricia have taken over the unit and will likely serve as de facto co-offensive coordinators. They will look to build off a strong offensive season and propel Mac Jones’ development in his all-important second season in the league. Having a new-look offensive line in place — center David Andrews is the only starter returning in last year’s spot — will not make matters any easier.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team will be without the likes of Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins at linebacker. It will also be without a true No. 1 cornerback for the first time in over a decade: Both Stephon Gilmore, who was traded mid-season in 2021, and free agency departee J.C. Jackson have found new NFL homes over the last few months.
The Patriots will therefore lean heavily on Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones and rookies Marcus and Jack Jones to help fill the void. The Patriots might also incorporate some different schematic wrinkles than the ones we were used to seeing — on both defense and offense.
What might help them as well would be getting some of their 2021 pickups going. They will look to veteran tight end Jonnu Smith to improve after a disappointing first year in New England, and to Nelson Agholor to carve out a role on offense.
Fellow wide receiver DeVante Parker will also be asked to do that. Ex-Dolphin Parker was acquired for a 2023 third-round draft pick back in May in hopes of finally giving the Patriots a true X receiver who can go up and make plays outside the numbers. After Parker torched the team for several years in the division, Bill Belichick went out and acquired him to add another playmaker to Mac Jones’ arsenal.
Furthermore, the Patriots will also look to quickly incorporate their draft class.
It is led by first-round pick Cole Strange, who was being propelled into the starting left guard position from Day 1, as well as second-round wide receiver Tyquan Thornton adding a new element of speed and playmaking ability at the wide receiver position. Third-round cornerback Marcus Jones should also make an early impact in a younger and inexperienced cornerback room; fourth-rounder Jack Jones is also trying to fit somewhere in the rotation at outside cornerback.
Although the Patriots’ 2022 offseason didn't compare to the one they had just a year ago, they still were able to get younger and faster, and to add more depth to positions of need to continue to fight their way back in a competitive AFC East. The defense looks as strong as ever even with the recent departures and the offense, on paper, is a lot deeper with a lot relying on just how good Joe Judge and Matt Patricia can be on a weekly basis.