Imagine what the people in charge of getting Christmas presents for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have to deal with. It's one thing to get a present for someone who is content for their life; it's entirely different to get something for the guys who have everything. A few years ago, they might have asked for another Super Bowl ring.
Now they just want ... another Super Bowl ring. And it's not even out of the question, considering how good the Patriots' roster is, considering they kept Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster as an insurance option for Brady and considering that they just got better this offseason.
The Patriots aren't like other franchises,The Pats don't have time to bother with other teams -- they're too busy chasing history and trying to
Imagine a world where Belichick and Brady leave the game with another title (or more?). You're not jumping up and down over their draft results, but given the offseason as a whole, it's not even that tough of an ask.
The non-draft draft
The Pats strolled into the NFL Draft late in the second day, not even making a pick until the third round. But don't let that fool you into believing that Belichick and Co. weren't active. They just took a different approach to "drafting" players, which might become a more common thing in a copycat league. It might be Moneyball, if indeed acquiring talented young veterans for upcoming draft choices is an inefficiency.
With their first-round choice, the Pats sent No. 32 overall to the Saints in a package for Brandin Cooks. Cooks gets a bad rap for some reason, but he's a speed demon with 162 catches, 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns the last two years. Someone needs to explain why he doesn't fit in with what the Saints want to do. No matter, New Orleans would rather have Ryan Ramcyzk -- a talented rookie offensive lineman they took with the last pick in the first round -- than Cooks.
New England already picked up Cooks' fifth-year option and will probably try to extend him at some point. He won't turn 24 until after the 2017 season starts, and he happens to play the game a lot like Julian Edelman. The Patriots also picked up a fourth-round pick in the deal while shipping off a third-round pick.
With New England's second-round "selection," they actually just traded back, which is something they tend to do anyway. In this case, Carolina Panthers to get Kony Ealy and pick No. 72. For eight slots, New England took a gamble on a former second-round pick who has a ton of upside but only produced 15 sacks in three years.to the
For their original fourth-round pick, Jack Doyle in Indianapolis. Allen gives the Pats a replacement for the departed Martellus Bennett and a complement for Rob Gronkowski in an offense that has routinely revolved around multiple tight ends. Like Bennett and Gronk, Allen can block if needed. He shouldn't be sweating whether or not he ends up getting a ton of catches., a dangerous red-zone threat that was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft and given a $29 million contract extension but was eventually replaced by
The actual draft
The Patriots only made four picks in the entire draft, with that low number including a Deflategate penalty. Ultimately they.
In the draft, New England nabbed Derek Rivers out of Youngstown State in the third round. Rivers was considered a guy who could go in the second round. Of courseand nab a small-school prospect that people expected to have an impact early.
The same goes for Antonio Garcia, who drew huge praise as a potential starter for the Patriots down the road. An offensive lineman out of Troy, he gives them immediate depth on a line that almost always features mid-round picks becoming solid players and quasi-stars. The "Patriots Way" should actually be called exploiting New England's ability to develop offensive linemen in order to net quality players late in the draft.
New England also added defensive tackle Deatrich Wise (Arkansas) and offensive lineman Conor McDermott (UCLA). There is a very good chance that at least one of them makes a critical play in the middle of a playoff game within the next two years.
Like other Patriots teams, but better
So where are the Patriots after all this wheeling and dealing? They might be scarier than ever.
The Patriots are bringing back the same offensive line that dominated last year. No rookies are expected to make meaningful contributions. It's a homegrown group that is getting a little bit older (Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon were drafted in 2011), but there is a lot of consistency here. Tom Brady -- breaking news -- remains quite good.
At running back, New England bypassed a chance to acquire Adrian Peterson or bring back LeGarrette Blount, instead deciding to sign Bills running back Mike Gillislee as a restricted free agent. They gave up a pick for him, and he will probably score several touchdowns in the AFC Championship Game, Chris Hogan style. He's joined by Dion Lewis, would-be Super Bowl MVP James White, Rex Burkhead and Branden Bolden in the backfield. Just a bunch of skilled running backs who do different things.
Wide receiver is the real coup for Brady. Adding Cooks to Edelman, Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell feels unfair, considering that Gronk and Allen are also dangerous pass catchers. The Pats are going to put up points again.
Defensively, this is a team that looked like it might lose both Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan and instead has Butler and Stephon Gilmore (signed to a lucrative free agent deal) at corner. Dont'a Hightower explored the free agency waters, but eventually came back to New England. It's basically the same Super Bowl-winning defense from last year. If Ealy plays well, the Pats are terrifying.
Freaking spoiler alert: The Patriots are going to win the AFC East and they're going to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. To avoid that happening, New England would almost have to see Brady getting hurt in a situation that involves Belichick going down too. This roster is too well constructed to not succeed.
There aren't many cases in sports where you can guarantee someone will be good, and the Patriots won't say they're a talented team. But the explosion of the salary cap and the willingness to deal young "veterans" has opened up new possibilities for the Patriots. This might be the most loaded roster since 2007. Look out below.