Hi, greetings from Germany. Now that Cam Newton's around for another year, do you think QB is still the best option in the first round? I would like to see Bill Belichick address the defensive line, although that's not fancy it's a big need as of now. It is a deep WR class, there should be talent on Day 2 as well. What's your feeling about the extension of Cam's contract? I thought he was the best veteran option of the available ones, as the 49ers were not about to trade Jimmy Garoppolo.
Defensive line is definitely a need, as is tight end, wide receiver, edge rusher, linebacker, cornerback and offensive line depending on how free agency works out. With the reported news that Jonnu Smith, Matt Judon, Henry Anderson and Davon Godchaux are signing and will be in New England that takes tight end, edge rusher and defensive line down the list of needs a bit. But otherwise I'd be happy with pretty much any of the above positions. I also agree that the depth of the receiver class makes it more likely that quality can be found in Day 2, so unless the one the Patriots absolutely love someone who is still on the board I'd be willing to wait to grab one later. I don't like the decision to re-sign Newton even though the money is modest. The money was even more modest last year and it simply didn't work out.
With the acquisition of players so far, do you think Bill might look to trade up in Round 1 using Stephon Gilmore and our pick? Would love to see Trey Lance as an option as I'm not overly excited about cam coming back.
I think there's a reasonable chance something like that might happen. I can definitely see Gilmore being used to add to a package of picks to move up a bit, and I'd love to see the target be a quarterback like Lance. Not sure exactly how far up they'd have to move, or even if Lance would be the target, but I like the idea of continuing the aggressive approach.
2021 Patriots Free Agent Tracker
Tracking all of the Patriots transactions during the free agent signing period.
Are you surprised by such lavish contacts?
I think in order to attract talent on the free agent market you need to be aggressive and spend some money. Most of these deals will ultimately look different in terms of cap dollars but they did go out and spend and given the state of the roster I feel that was necessary to get the rebuilding started. The more important factor will be how well these guys play. As long as they produce, no one will worry about the money.
As a long time Pats fan, I am elated about all the FA signings that will address many needs. I am most excited about Matthew Judon, who will be a major piece for Belichick. Who are you most excited about? Also, do you think this frees the Pats up to take the best player available in the draft or should they go all in and trade up for the QB they like, which would put need pressure on Cam?
I'm most excited about Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, who fill roles that have been dormant for the past two seasons. Good offenses need tight ends and Smith and Henry have been a productive in Tennessee and LA. I also feel they should help Newton as reliable targets in the passing game. As for the plans in the draft I don't think anything has really changed. I feel the idea has always been to take the best player available. Now if Kyle Pitts is on the board I don't think they'd take him given the double dip at the position. I also think quarterback remains the No. 1 need, so if a trade up the board is available to grab one I'd go that way too. But overall the signings shouldn't have a huge impact on the draft decisions. Belichick will likely stick to his board and decide where to go based on what's available.
Drafting a quarterback or more than one has been the topic of discussion for the Unfiltered crew over the past few (or more) weeks, and Paul, especially seems to think that the chances of getting a quality starting QB with in the draft is highly unlikely. I understand that the unfiltered crew has an aversion to math; however, I do not. Part of my job requires me to perform probabilistic analyses on all sorts of datasets. Therefore, I took on myself to dodge work and try to quantify what the odds are of the Patriots acquiring an acceptable or even quality draft pick if they were to select a quarterback with any of their picks. The data set that I used was all quarterbacks selected in the drafts from 1995 to 2019. For each QB picked I assigned them a 1 for being a quality, NFL caliber starting QB, a 0.5 for on the fence, and a 0 for either a bust or no data (they never started or even made a team). Just so we are understanding this process, out of 302 QBs selected in the 24 years of data, 248 were zeros, 25 were "on the fence" (0.5 score), and 29 were considered quality NFL starting QBs. Considering their draft position the probabilities of acquiring a quality QB was calculated for each of the Patriots 2021 draft positions. The result are: Draft Pick 15, 32.3% chance of getting a quality NFL starting QB; Pick 47, 19.6%; Pick 96, 14.7%, Pick 109, 13.1%, Pick 139, 12.5%; Pick 147, 12.5%; Pick 187 and 11.8%, Pick 243, 11.4%. Based on this analysis and considering team needs, I feel that even with Cam Newton re-signing, I believe the Patriots should draft a QB with their 15th and 47th pick, giving them two chances: one a 1 in 3 and the other a 1 in 5 chance of having a special player at QB. This may sound to analytical or mathematical but I think it sheds some light on what the actual probabilities are of getting a quality QB through the draft. The other needs on the team can be filled with FA and the other lower draft picks.
First of all I have absolutely no aversion to math or statistics to provide probabilities of success in the draft. I do wonder about the validity and evaluations that you've made, however. In your analysis you suggest that you assigned a 1 to a starting caliber NFL quarterback, then you suggest the percentages as 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 (depending on draft position) of getting a "special player" in the draft. Those two things aren't the same. Andy Dalton was a second-round pick who turned into a starting caliber NFL QB and therefore likely received a 1 rating. He was nowhere near special, and if someone else was doing the evaluations I doubt the numbers would be the same. Also, I'm highly skeptical of the numbers in the lower rounds as well. Just looking at today's quarterbacks, three were selected after the first round – Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott. I'm guessing you're counting guys like Gardner Minshew or maybe even Nick Foles, neither of which would be considered a starting caliber quarterback by most. Anyway, the research here is obviously thorough but that's not how finding a quarterback works – for the most part if you want a good one you need to take him early in the draft. So suggesting that x amount of quarterbacks taken with a specific pick wind up succeeding is very misleading. In fact, I found just one selected with the 243rd pick – BJ Coleman – and he did nothing. So the percentage there should be 0.
What's the potential of the Pats working a deal with one of their old trade partners, the Saints, and swap Michael Thomas for Stephon Gilmore? This trade would be mutually beneficial and meets needs on both sides of the ledger. Michael Thomas would immediately become the Patriots No. 1 receiver, and hopefully the first move of several to replenish the receiving corps cupboard this offseason.
I agree with the first part of your analysis – Thomas would immediately be the Patriots No. 1 receiver. But with Drew Brees retired, why would New Orleans want to spend money on Gilmore, who would be the No. 2 corner behind Marshon Lattimore? Gilmore is still a quality corner and even if he's considered ahead of Lattimore he wouldn't seem to be a major need for a team likely to be in transition. And Thomas joins Alvin Kamara as the keys to a Saints offense that will be dealing with life without Drew Brees so it's unlikely they'd be willing to deal him.
Why is there no mention of Jameis Winston being considered in the Patriots search for a quarterback? Is it the asking price because I see more upside in Winston then Newton. What's your take on Winston?
I would agree that Winston has much more upside at this stage than Newton, but I disagree there hasn't been much mention of him. Winston has been talked about as a possibility often, but it doesn't seem like the Patriots agree and they stuck with Newton. That may have something to do with the fact that New Orleans seems intent on re-signing him and having him compete with Taysom Hill for the starting job … and before I actually posted this that's exactly what happened.
Do teams have to make qualifying offers to their unrestricted free agents to receive compensatory picks if they sign with another team?
No, unrestricted free agents are free to sign anywhere once the new league year begins. Whether their previous team makes an offer or not, it is entitled to a comp pick should the player warrant one. Not all free agents factor into the formula, which requires term, money, playing time and other elements in order to be considered. But the short answer is qualifying offers are not necessary for unrestricted free agents to receive compensatory picks.
Probably Bill Belichick has decided that he just is not going to spend big bucks on a QB, BUT, the Marcus Cannon trade with Nick Caserio and Houston got my wheels turning that, just maybe, Bill and Nick have had a deal for Deshaun Watson already worked out which explains: 1) Houston is supposedly not answering the phone for trade calls from other teams but Nick answered from Bill for the Cannon trade, and 2) Bill, surprisingly, not attending the Senior Bowl to watch Mac Jones or the pro day for Trey Lance when a young QB still seems to be a big need. Thoughts? Am I crazy?
I love a good conspiracy theory but I'm not anywhere near close to buying this one. The word out of Houston is that they're not taking calls on Watson, and the hyperbole of that statement notwithstanding, that doesn't mean they're not talking to anyone about anything. So the Cannon trade isn't a factor here. As for the young quarterbacks, the Patriots have been scouting them throughout the process even if Belichick himself is not in attendance. Watson isn't likely headed to New England anytime soon.
With the rumors surrounding N'Keal Harry being on the trade block I was wondering what the Pats might be able to get in return for trading him?
I don't see Harry generating much interest around the league after two quiet seasons to start his career. Maybe a conditional late-round pick from someone looking to give him a fresh start elsewhere, but not much beyond that.
Am I alone in wanting to see the reinvention of Kordell Stewart's old Slash role with the Steelers? Better yet, let's add a few inches and 40 lbs and make him a FB/TE. Yes, I'm talking about Cam Newton. Better yet, let's tag team him with another athletic QB, say Trey Lance or even Marcus Mariota if you don't want to shell out to move up in the draft. Put them both on the field at the same time and just imagine the gadgetry Josh McDaniels could dial up. The question is whether Newton can block and go out for the occasional pass route, but there's no question he's got the size and athleticism to fill what would be a completely unique and difficult role to defend in today's NFL. So what do you think? RPO, Lance gives to Newton at FB and fakes the bootleg to draw the defense to the other side of the field. Newton searches for an opening to the end zone but when he doesn't find one, he flings one to Edelman who releases from his block on a short slant behind the defenders. How do you stop that?
Well, they're all out today and this is the latest example of people just trying to figure out why Newton was re-signed. I don't feel he's all that difficult to deal with as a runner other than in power situations. I don't think he's overly elusive in the open field or dynamic in terms of his speed. RPOs require the defense to react to different situations. I'm not sure why handing the ball off to Newton and having him throw is any different than the quarterback faking the handoff and throwing himself. Either way the defensive backs have to cover the receivers, and Edelman will need to do what he always does and get open. Trick plays are great and the Patriots used a lot of them last season and many of them worked, particularly the double passes. I don't need to see Newton playing fullback to see that happen.
I was just wondering about the impact of covid-19 on the OTA schedule in 2021. Obviously safety is paramount, but with the rapid pace of vaccinations, it would seem that a possible delayed start might be possible. Teams with new head coaches are supposed to begin team activities in April, but I don't see this being prudent yet. Any rumors on if the NFL might slip the schedule a month or two in order to get everybody inoculated and protected, yet still get in the preparatory work? Thank you.
I think teams are going to have a hard time getting the players to go back to the old way of doing things after last year. The lack of spring workouts was something the players enjoyed, and it looks like that will be the case again this year because of the pandemic but also it could stay that way moving forward. It will be interesting to see if the players decide to skip these "voluntary" workouts more often now that they've had a taste of playing a full season without them. But in terms of your question, I do think we'll see more virtual work this spring as well.
Does the signing of Cam Newton on a one year deal indicate the Patriots are looking to draft a development prospect at QB with a view to sitting for a year - like Trey Lance or Kellen Mond?
I think you have it exactly right. I do believe a developmental prospect will be drafted – probably not in the first round but later down the road likely in Day 2. Mond is a guy to keep an eye on. Davis Mills, Kyle Trask and Jamie Newman are others to keep in mind. It would be quite surprising if the Patriots didn't draft at least one quarterback during the weekend.
Filling in the off-season watching NFL Network's America's Game for the six super bowl seasons. I also watched the introductions of other teams that won as well. They pick 3 members of team to talk about the season. I noticed that the teams or players that won multiple Super Bowls, the NFL network would always include the QB. Yet with the Patriots and I think this goes for the in house Patriots production ones as well, Tom Brady is only on the 2001 season one as one of the 3 members. This is greatly disappointing and really does a disservice in a historical perspective to what Tom Brady did or how important he was for each of those Championship seasons. We know but those productions will go down in the archives as part of history. Young People watching them 2 or 3 decades from now that didn't witness Brady's greatness will not understand that without him the Patriots wouldn't have those championship seasons. My question is who decided who the 3 members will be? Is it BB the head coach, the GM? The owner? Is it the NFL network? Was Brady approached and did he decline?
Producers of those programs always want Brady to participate and unfortunately he wasn't willing to do so after the first try. But it was not due to a lack of trying on behalf of those who were part of those projects. Brady was approached many times for the other five DVDs and wasn't able to take part.