After nearly twenty years of dominance, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have proven they are, in fact, human. The run the future Hall of Famer had from 2001 to 2019 is one of the greatest across all sports. Here we are in 2023 with a month of the season left, and the Patriots are staring a rebuild in the face.
They say Father Time comes for all, and in a football sense, it has come like a wrecking ball. Miley Cyrus wouldn’t have been able to prepare Belichick or any Patriot fan or fantasy player for the state of the current roster. Looking at it and the fantasy-relevant positions can leave someone feeling jaded. There are no flowers to be presented to the coach and general manager, this team is going to take a lot to climb out of the hole it is in.
Enough of the nonsense, let’s pose a serious question: who on this team is of any value in fantasy as we speak? Rhamondre Stevenson is perhaps the best of any of them, but Patriots running backs come and go like the New England snow. Free agent signings Juju Smith-Schuster and Hunter Henry have not popped. Quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe make Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle look appealing.
This team is not built to be fantasy-relevant, let alone be successful. Despite that, they will be handed a major golden ticket in April.
With the Second Pick of the 2024 NFL Draft…
Since Belichick took over the Patriots in 2000, their highest draft pick came in the 2001 NFL Draft. New England selected future Hall of Famer Richard Seymour but has never taken a quarterback that high. Obviously, they didn’t need to draft one high due to the greatest player of all time being on the roster. The Patriots, of course, found him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
The way things are sitting presently, according to Tankathon, the New England Patriots will be picking second. The 2024 NFL Draft is the perfect time to be needing a quarterback. Much to their demise they are in a position to get one after the season they are having.
The Jones experiment did not pan out, and not much of the 2021 quarterback class has. The Patriots found mild success with Jones, but time eventually proved that those weren’t sustainable. No matter who the playcaller or the skill players were, it simply didn’t work. Those missteps now have the Patriots looking to start fresh, which will come in the form of Drake Maye. Some believe the North Carolina passer to compete to be the top quarterback in the 2024 class.
The bigger projection isn’t with Maye, however. The bigger question comes from whether the Patriots organization can develop a quarterback.
What Does History Tell Us?
Since 2000, the Patriots have drafted or signed a total of 11 quarterbacks as UDFA. Of those 11, the only ones to pan out were Brady and Jimmy Garappolo. In the case of Brady, being the greatest to play the position makes him the ultimate outlier. His success away from New England also tells us it wasn’t the system. The same goes for Garoppolo. While he doesn’t have Brady’s rings, he found success away from the Patriots.
As for the other nine, they have all proven to be players who aren’t it.
The team has used several play callers, such as Charlie Weis, Josh McDaniels, and Bill O’Brien, to name a few. Some earned head coaching jobs where their success with Brady couldn’t be bottled and used elsewhere. When they were in New England, their systems couldn’t work unless Brady was under center. These are the men that Belichick trusts, but they shouldn’t even be trusted to coach up a pee-wee team, let alone an NFL offense.
History is hitting us in the face with the answer at this point: they can’t develop quarterbacks. Nothing will change until Belichick can bring in someone new in terms of offensive voice. His good friend Nick Saban has the blueprint for doing this. He brings in a new offensive voice every couple of years, and the offense doesn’t miss.
What Moves Could the Patriots Make to Give Them a Chance?
This is the most exciting part regarding showing potential to develop a quarterback. They are not afraid to spend money, and they aren’t too afraid to make different picks in the draft. Picks in the first round may not be their best indicator of success, but drafting second overall helps those odds change.
Bill Belichick has thrived by finding quality players in the second and third days of the NFL draft. Players like Julian Edelman, Asante Samuel, Rob Gronkowski, and Joe Thuney were drafted after the first round. Finding value is one of his better traits as a general manager. Pairing that trait with being able to take some big risks in free agency could turn this team around offensively.
They need to rebuild the wide receiving corp desperately, and in 2024, they could do just that. Tee Higgins is the biggest target any team can have next March. Mike Evans is also a free agent, but it is hard to imagine Tampa Bay letting him go. Calvin Ridley is another target who could leave while also being a top option in the Patriots offense.
After Ridley and Higgins, many great secondary options could work because another option is trading for a reliable number-one target. The bottom line is they need to make a move, and no matter how they do it, it has to be done.
This offense is getting a new face, whether it is who we expect in Maye or someone else. Perhaps the Bears pass up on Williams, and he falls to them. Either way, those quarterbacks will need support, and if we are honest, the Hall of Fame coach may not be the right decision-maker or roster builder for the job. Because of that, be very hesitant to buy into whoever they throw under center next year or beyond.
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