It's been an active offseason thus far for the Patriots, but not all of the transactions have been positive. The team has seen its share of important departures, such as Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola while also adding some badly needed reinforcements to the mix.
The newcomers have primarily resided on defense, where Adrian Clayborn, Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty all were brought in to fill some holes. Given the way the season ended with the Patriots allowing 41 points in the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, it made sense that Bill Belichick would look to bolster that side of the ball.
But the offense got some attention too with Jeremy Hill, Matt Tobin and Cordarrelle Patterson all coming to Foxborough. Add it all together and the Patriots will have a different look in 2018, as is typically the case with all NFL teams each year in the era of free agency and salary caps.
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is simple: Have the Patriots improved thus far in the offseason?
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
There's no question that the Patriots lost some talented players who will be missed but the cupboard is by no means bare. New England brought in some quality players who should help fill some holes, and the team also will welcome back some injured players like Julian Edelman and most importantly, Dont'a Hightower.
The defense lacked serious depth a year ago and now Adrian Clayborn provides a legitimate defensive end option opposite Trey Flowers. Danny Shelton should fit in nicely inside with Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy (and possibility Vincent Valentine) to give the front a new look. And Jason McCourty should replace Malcolm Butler at corner along with Stephon Gilmore.
But the key is Hightower, whose presence was sorely missed a year ago. Assuming he's back and healthy, the Patriots have improved on defense and that in turn should help the entire team.
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
The Patriots brought in some good players but in most cases they're replacing players lost through free agency, leaving things pretty much the same or perhaps even a little worse. And that doesn't even account for the huge hole at left tackle after the departure of Nate Solder.
Adrian Clayborn should help up front, and I've always liked Danny Shelton's athleticism for his size. But Shelton basically takes Alan Branch's spot, and Jason McCourty will fill Malcolm's Butler's position. At best that's a wash. Jeremy Hill is not as versatile or talented as Dion Lewis, leaving the backfield minus it's most valuable weapon.
The offense will still be productive as long as Tom Brady is around, but I don't see any major improvements on defense based on the acquisitions the Patriots have made. Brady will likely continue to win games anyway, but there's still work to be done.