Of course, if there's one team in the NFL that definitely doesn't need any help in becoming a Super Bowl contender, it's the New England Patriots. Although the NFL is a league designed for parity, someone clearly forgot to tell that to the Patriots, who seem to laugh in parity's face every year. Under the iron fist of Bill Belichick, the Patriots have played in nine Super Bowls over the past 18 seasons, including four of the past five.
Belichick probably doesn't need any help putting his roster together, but we're going to give him a few suggestions anyway. Although the Patriots have a talented roster heading into 2019, there are three small things they can do to put themselves in a position to return to the Super Bowl for the fourth straight season.
Let's get to the list.
1. Trade for Kyle Rudolph
Bill Belichick would never come out and say that New England still needs a tight end, but if you look at what the Patriots have done this offseason, it seems that Belichick still isn't fully convinced that his team is going to be able to come close to replacing Rob Gronkowski, even though they've spent all offseason trying.
Since Gronk's retirement in March, the Patriots have added multiple tight ends in Ben Watson, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, and undrafted free agent Andrew Beck (They also signed Matt LaCosse this year, but he was added before Gronk announced his retirement). Watson is arguably the best tight end they've added this offseason, but he won't .
If you look at every successful Patriots team for the past 15 years, there's almost always been a star tight end, ranging from Watson (2004-09) to Gronk (2010-18). The Patriots have especially thrived when they've had two tight ends like they did when they pared Gronk with Aaron Hernandez (2010-12) and Martellus Bennett (2016-17). Basically, without a productive tight end on the roster, there's a real chance the Patriots offense could take a small step back in 2019, which is where Rudolph comes in.
For the Patriots, adding Rudolph to the roster would potentially go a long way toward replacing Gronk. Although Rudolph doesn't block as well as Gronk -- there aren't many tight ends who can -- he did put up similar numbers in the receiving game last season. In 2018, Rudolph caught 64 passes for 634 yards and four touchdowns while Gronk caught 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns.
Trading for Rudolph would actually be a classic Belichick move. Not only does the Patriots coach love to trade for tight ends -- we saw the Patriots trade for Martellus Bennett in 2016 and Dwayne Allen in a 2017 trade -- but he has also proven that he's willing to pull the trigger on a deal when he feels that his team needs an offensive weapon. Since March 2007, we've seen Belichick go the trade route to add weapons like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Brandin Cooks. In March 2018, we add Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Raiders.
Of course, there is one potential drawback for the Patriots if they were to acquire Rudolph and that's his salary cap hit. Assuming the Patriots didn't re-work his contract before making a trade, he would come with a cap hit of $7.625 million.
If the Patriots feel that Rudolph is too expensive, they could also make a play for former Texans tight end Ryan Griffin, who . Griffin isn't as talented as Rudolph, but he would come at a much cheaper price.
2. Add an offensive tackle
The Patriots actually added an offensive tackle Jared Veldheer) . With Veldheer walking away from football, the Patriots now have a lot of questions at the one position on the offensive line where you don't want to have a lot of questions: Left tackle., but that signing backfired on them when the player they signed (
As things currently stand, the team's depth chart at left tackle consists of Isaiah Wynn and 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste, who are both coming off injuries and who have combined to play exactly zero NFL snaps in their career.
On Wynn's end, he's still battling back from offseason quad surgery, which is expected to keep him sidelined until training camp. The Patriots already knew they had a serious depth problem at left tackle, which is a big reason why they added Veldheer. However, with Veldheer now retired, the Patriots need to start looking around for another veteran to add.that caused him to miss the entire 2018 season. As for Cajuste, he's still recovering
If I'm Belichick, the first person I'd call is Donald Penn. Although the Patriots might have a tough time convincing Penn to sign as a backup, it's not crazy to think that he might be willing to sacrifice money and playing time for a chance to win a Super Bowl.
If Penn's not interested or if he's out of their price range, the Patriots could go after someone like Garry Gilliam, Jermey Parnell or Ryan Schraeder. All three players are available in free agency and all three guys would add some much needed depth. That being said, Penn would definitely be the most intriguing option. At 36 years old and coming off a season where he only played four games due to injury, the veteran might be willing to sign for less and embrace a backup role if it means getting back to the postseason. In his 12-year career, Penn has only played in one playoff game, and that came back in 2007 (He was also a member of the Raiders when they made the playoffs in 2016, but he didn't play in the postseason).
3. Sign Gerald McCoy
If there's one move on this list that screams Patriots, it would be signing Gerald McCoy. As a matter of fact, as soon as the Buccaneers made the on May 20, almost everyone on the internet immediately assumed that he would end up signing with New England.
How much y’all wanna bet the Patriots get Gerald McCoy— ADDY 🇳🇬🏁 (@LethalHuxtable) May 21, 2019
Patriots need to sign Gerald Mccoy asap— #RIPDroopy (@oTbAdonis_AAG) May 21, 2019
Of course, the reason everyone automatically connected McCoy to the Patriots is because if there's one thing New England is better at than winning Super Bowls, it's convincing veteran players to sign with them at bargain-basement prices, which is likely going to have to happen with McCoy, because the Patriots don't have a lot of spare salary cap space.
The good news for the Patriots is that McCoy might actually be willing to sacrifice some money to sign with them just so he can get to the playoffs for the FIRST TIME in his career. That's right, McCoy has never played in a postseason game. After being selected by the Buccaneers with the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, McCoy spent nine seasons in Tampa and didn't reach the playoffs once. To put that in perspective, the Patriots reached the playoffs nine times in those same nine seasons and played in five Super Bowls.
McCoy has already made it clear that he wants to play for a "contender," which presumably means the Patriots would have to be one of the top teams on his radar.
"I want to win," the six-time Pro Bowler recently told ESPN.com. "I'm not worried about where I'm living. Wherever I got to go to win. ... Everybody's open."
When the Bucs decided to cut McCoy, they basically dropped a present right in Belichick's lap, and that's because the Patriots have spent most of their offseason trying to fine quality defensive linemen. Not only did they add three guys during the early stages of free agency -- Mike Pennel, John Simon and Michael Bennett (trade) -- but they also ended up using two picks on defensive linemen in the draft (Chase Winovich, Byron Cowart). Not to mention, they Danny Shelton on May 20.
If you only look at interior linemen, McCoy would be a gigantic upgrade over anyone the Patriots currently have on their roster. Although he's 31 years old, McCoy has still been highly productive over the past few years. In 2018, he finished the season with 28 tackles and 6.0 sacks, despite only playing in 14 games. He's also racked up at least 5.0 sacks in every season he's played in since 2012. To put that in perspective, only one Patriots player recorded more than five sacks last season and that guy (Trey Flowers) isn't even on the roster anymore.
It's not often that a six-time Pro Bowler suddenly becomes available as a free agent in May, and if the Patriots want to instantly bolster their defensive line, then they'll definitely make a run at McCoy. If McCoy does end up in New England, it would reunite him with Bennett. The two were teammates for three seasons in Tampa (2010-12), and their best season together came in 2012 when they combined for 14 sacks.