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Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: On to the offseason

Fans' questions answered in our weekly mailbag. 


Why was the Patriot offense suddenly so ineffective in the second half of the Titans playoff game? The Patriots put together scoring drives in the second quarter, but after halftime, couldn't put together a drive. Gordon Rowlinson

It wasn't exactly sudden, Gordon. The 2019 Patriots offense struggled to put drives together and points on the board for most of the second half of the season, let alone the second half of the Titans game. Injuries, reliance on newcomers and inexperienced players, a drop-off in talent – all of these were contributing factors in New England's inability to score enough points to win on a consistent basis in 2019. Erik Scalavino

Who are the Patriots free agents after this season? Gerald Pelkey

There are quite a few, most notably Tom Brady, Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Matthew Slater. We're just getting started with this offseason, but we'll be posting a detailed breakdown of New England's free agent situation, as well as analyses of who will be available league-wide, in the coming weeks here on Stay tuned. Erik Scalavino

Following the loss to the Titans, would you say the Patriots should be in a "win-now" or rebuild mode? If the current players are on the roster come draft day, should the Patriots have a QB as their no. 1 priority? Thank you! Trygve Johannes Lereim Sævareid

The current players on the roster won't all be here in 2020, and the QB could be one of those who's no longer part of the equation. So, it all comes down to Brady. His situation will go a long way to determining whether or not the club rebuilds or restocks. And we might not know which direction that is for a few months. Erik Scalavino

With the [playoff] loss fresh in our memories, it's time to start wondering what's next. Should the Patriots attempt to get Brady back or move onto the future with [Jarrett] Stidham as the QB? I know it's something we don't like to think about, but it's coming regardless. David Phillips

It's the question that will dominate the early part of the offseason, if not all of it. I could easily make arguments for Brady staying, going, or flat-out retiring. There's merit to all three, and I'm sure he's considering them. The team assuredly is as well. Like you, I'm anxious to see how it all unfolds. Erik Scalavino

If Tom returns, is the best way to help him be successful by finding better receivers or improve the offensive lines' talent to establish a better run game (which is what they did for the last Super bowl run)? Glenn Worthman
The running game actually improved down the stretch. That wasn't the problem with the offense. It was the lack of consistent receiving threats that truly hurt the Patriots. Whether or not Brady is back in a Patriots uniform, that position needs to be addressed – among many others – this offseason. Erik Scalavino

Gronk's waiting till the last minute to say he was retiring hurt the Patriots fill that [tight end] position. What do you see happening in free agency and the draft? Edward Roberts

I'm not so sure that Rob Gronkowski's prolonged deliberation last offseason impacted New England's decision-making process at tight end. I don't think there's much more they could have done to improve their depth, given what was available in both free agency and the draft. However, tight end should almost certainly be a high priority for New England in both markets once again this year. Erik Scalavino

Matthew Slater, great or greatest special team player of all time? It is still somewhat early in his career to say. However, I believe he's a Hall of Famer already. Mike Davis

Somewhat early?! He's a 12-year veteran who's likely considering retiring, Mike. But yes, Slater is one of the best special teams players the NFL has ever seen. I'd include former Buffalo Bill Steve Tasker in that conversation, as would the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though Tasker is not yet enshrined in Canton, he's been nominated several times and as recently as this year was a semifinalist. My guess is, Tasker gets in eventually, as does Slater, who would join his dad, Jackie, the longtime L.A. Rams offensive tackle. Erik Scalavino

If you were running the Patriots, would you pull a Mike Ditka and trade your entire draft for the No. 1 overall pick to draft Joe Burrow of LSU, who seems like a can't-miss star? Gary Goldstein

No. Erik Scalavino

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