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Replay: Best of the Week on Radio Thu Jun 13 - 02:00 PM | Tue Jun 18 - 11:55 AM

Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Visions of 2020

Fans' questions answered in our weekly mailbag.


It would seem that the Patriots can't pay TB12 what he is worth, while dealing with keeping free agents and shoring up the issues of 2019. Does this mean that the Patriots can't keep Tom [Brady] and expect to be competitive, without trading away a player or two? Daniel Falen

With March and TB12's free agent status looming, along with reports that the Patriots are willing to pay him north of $30 million annually, with so many holes to fill and an aging defense, can they realistically pay Brady that kind of money AND reload through the draft, along with targeting some key free agents? Chip Huckins

This, of course, is the question that'll dominate the several weeks, Chip and Daniel, and the short answer at this stage is, it's going to be quite difficult for New England to accomplish. Impossible? No, but extremely difficult.

Other media reports indicate that Brady's decision on whether to remain in Foxborough or test the market may not be entirely down to dollar amounts, but on how generous the team will be in stockpiling the roster with offensive talent. So, perhaps, the $30 million figure might not be necessary. Brady himself acknowledged over Super Bowl Weekend that he and the Patriots have had some discussions already, so, that may be an encouraging sign. Erik Scalavino

Could you possibly help me understand why the popular "solution" for keeping Brady in New England seems to be to throw money at him (and then somehow getting him sufficient talent to work with)? Michael Aboud

My sense is that dots are being connected, given the Brady camp's past remarks about wanting to be "appreciated" (read "higher-paid") and his apparent body-language messaging this past season, in which he seemed frustrated, to many observers, with what he had to work with on the field. There could be more to it than that, I'm willing to wager, but very few people have direct knowledge of exactly what it will take for both sides to reach an agreement, if there is indeed a desire to do so. Erik Scalavino

Hi, guys... and Megan. I'm in Southern California and for about six years, your [radio] show has been my lifeline to feel connected. I listen to every show and have to say, the new additions to the PU crew have really grown on me. I attend a game a year and was able to attend the Pittsburgh game to start [2019] and celebrate our victory.

I have many people at work saying things like, "KC are the new Patriots" and "I hope you enjoyed that game and celebrating the Super Bowl, because it's not happening again for a while." I am praying Brady stays a Patriot, and we can get him what he needs to stay. I am not ready to give up on the quest for seven with Brady and I still believe we can make a run.

I'd appreciate thoughts and how to combat "Patriots are done" hater speak. I would love to see Brady go out like the beloved and legendary late Kobe [Bryant] did in his final game. Am I unrealistically holding on?! Thanks for being there for this SoCal girl! Vicki Perkins

Thanks for being such a devoted listener and follower, Vicki. Sorry you have to endure such scorn from your colleagues, but remember, there are many non-Patriots fans around the country and the globe who've had to watch for 20 years as New England has dominated the NFL. There's a lot of pent-up frustration being expelled as those fans delighted in watching the Patriots exit the 2019 postseason prematurely.

Take a moment, though, to consider that they could be right. The now Super Bowl Champion Chiefs could be the new cream of the AFC crop, and it could be a long time before New England appears in another Super Bowl. Plus, the 2020 season schedule of opponents presents a severe challenge for New England, regardless of whether TB12 remains in a Patriots uniform.

For the time being, I suggest taking the high road and grinning and bearing it, uncomfortable as that may be. After all, you've had two decades of success to enjoy. That's more than most fans can ever hope for in their lifetimes. Take the Chiefs, who had to wait a half-century in between Super Bowl victories.

However, also keep in mind that the NFL is a league in which even the worst teams can turn things around quickly (see San Francisco, football's worst team just two years ago, as Exhibit A). The Patriots have endured early-exit seasons before and responded, eventually, with more Super Bowl victories. Of course, that's no guarantee that history will repeat itself, but take heart in the fact that it's not unprecedented. Many a critic has counted out the Patriots before and been proven wrong.

Allow your detractors their schadenfreude for now. Let the team-building period of 2020 unfold throughout the spring and late summer. It's not at all unrealistic to think that this coming season can bring more success to New England than 2019 did, whether Brady is part of the plan or not. Most importantly… keep listening to our Patriots Unfiltered podcast. We'll cheer you up whenever you need it. Erik Scalavino

Look, I get that the Patriots had issues with their receivers and o-line this past season. I also know what my eyes were seeing in regards to Brady's accuracy and finding-the-open-man problems. He was missing throws he could have made blindfolded in the past. Do you think everyone is failing to hold him accountable because of his unquestioned G.O.A.T. status? Jim Loveland

I don't know who "everyone" is that you're referring to, Jim, because I know plenty of folks who have been critical of the quarterback's 2019 performance. Certainly, Brady deserves his measure of respect for what he's done for the Patriots over the past 20 years, and he receives more than enough of that on a regular basis. But impartial observers can also recognize that Brady isn't entirely exempt from criticism for New England's problems this past season. Erik Scalavino

What do you think Kyle Van Noy will do this off-season? Any chance he re-signs with the Patriots? Brandon Jenson

Of course there's a chance. In fact, I'd say there's a better chance now than a month ago, when I was inclined to think Van Noy had played his last game in a Patriots uniform. That might still end up being the case, but the linebacker's remarks last week should give fans like you a good deal of hope that he'll remain in Foxborough.

"I would love to stay in New England," he told CBS Sports. "It's going to be home forever… I feel like I'm a Bostonian at heart. The food, the culture, everything… so, I'm very, very confident in regards to staying at home. That would be an honor to finish out my career with the New England Patriots."

He added, though, that this is a business and he will do what's best for his family. He should get his fair share of offers from other teams come mid-March. That said, I could easily see this team making it worth Van Noy's while to remain here. They could use his skills and versatility on that defense. Erik Scalavino

Greg Olsen and the Panthers have agreed to part ways. What would it take to bring him in and what benefits to the offense would Olsen actually deliver, given his injury history? Rosen Rashkov

I have no idea what it would take to get Olsen in a Patriots uniform, because I've no sense at this point of what he would want in terms of signing with another team, nor do I know if New England would want him. I would expect them to be interesting in talking with him, however, as Olsen is still a productive player and several years younger than last year's top Patriots tight end, Benjamin Watson.

During a guest analyst appearance on FOX during Super Bowl pregame coverage, Olsen, you may have heard, remarked that the Patriots are trying to convince Rob Gronkowski to unretire. Perhaps he said so in jest, but he added that he'd be a third-choice for New England. In my estimation, Olsen could be more than a third option.

With the exception of 2017 and '18, when Olsen dealt with a foot injury, he's been remarkably durable throughout his NFL career. He's be an immediate upgrade to the tight end position were he to sign with New England. Count me in as being in favor of such a move to address a clear position of need for the Patriots in 2020. Erik Scalavino

Do you think the Patriots will take a chance on a big playmaker on offense like Gronk in 2010, or will they be more focused on filling a less flashy, but equally as necessary position? Taylor Irr

The implication being, Taylor, that the two are mutually exclusive? They're not. New England can – and should – target both impact playmakers and quality-depth role players as it builds its 2020 roster through free agency and the draft. Erik Scalavino

1) Do you think Dont'a Hightower will restructure his contract? 2) Which receivers should we pay attention to in free agency? 3) If you had to choose between Devin McCourty and Anthony Harris in free agency, who would you prefer? Gregorio Ladeira

1) No idea. It would help the team, certainly, but renegotiation is a two-way street, and I'm not sure what his appetite would be for such discussions; 2) Stay tuned for our annual Free Agent Forecast posts on (coming in March) for answers to all your free agency questions, position by position; 3) McCourty. The secondary was a strength of this team last season, and losing a player like McCourty would have ripple effects throughout the roster, not just on defense. Erik Scalavino

When discussing the WR depth or lack thereof, why doesn't anyone talk about the speedy receiver Quincy Adeboyejo that the Patriots had on the practice squad? Delmont Johnson

Well, simply because we have no clue what Adeboyejo can do at this juncture. He joined the club's practice squad in late November, and since we're not allowed to watch regular season practices in full (the way we are during training camp), we have no sense of what skills this players has or what he can contribute to the Patriots offense.

However, Adeboyejo was one of several 2019 practice squad players signed to a future contract at the start of New England's offseason last month. If he's still on the roster come springtime, we'll have an opportunity to see him run around during OTAs and minicamp, and perhaps even in training camp later this summer. At that point, should he do anything to impress, we'll start talking about him. Till then, there's just no point in doing so. Erik Scalavino

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