The Patriots just underwent a historic offseason where the club spent more money in free agency than it ever had before. Not only did New England revamp the offensive skill positions and bring in more playmakers on defense, but they also addressed the biggest question on the roster -- quarterback. With the No. 15 overall pick at the 2021 draft, the Patriots took Alabama's Mac Jones, who'll now be groomed by Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels to one day take over the position. That said, the team also re-signed Cam Newton, who'll likely have the inside track at the Week 1 starting job to begin the regular season.
As we wait for training camp to get underway in just a few weeks, let's take a quick snapshot of New England's depth chart as we stand here today. On top of a look at where each player is slotted, we'll also run through a quick synopsis of key positions for both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
What a difference an offseason makes, right? The most notable change for the Patriots offense comes at the tight end spot. New England dove headfirst into free agency and inked two of the top tight ends on the market to primetime deals. While Hunter Henry is technically listed behind Jonnu Smith on this depth chart, the two will likely be co-starters throughout the season with the Patriots setting a base offense in 12-personnel. Henry will be a more traditional Y tight end, Smith can be utilized as an H-back in certain situations, giving the Patriots a layer to their offense that has been missing for quite some time.
Elsewhere, the receiver unit has also seen a noticeable upgrade. Again, New England was aggressive and signed both Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor to contracts very early in free agency. Both should slot into the starting rotation while Jakobi Meyers looks to build off a breakout season in 2020 as the slot option, possibly adopting routes left by the retired Julian Edelman. When it comes to this wide receiver position, however, the X-factor is N'Keal Harry. The former first-round pick is entering a critical third season of his career and will need to show signs that he can live up to his draft status or else he's at risk of the club possibly cutting ties.
As for the offensive line, Joe Thuney (signed with Chiefs) and Marcus Cannon (traded to Texans) are the two notable departures. That said, the team does have familiar faces poised to take over at their former posts. New England struck a deal with the Raiders to reacquire offensive tackle Trent Brown, who'll now move to the right side of the O-line. Meanwhile, second-year lineman Michael Onwenu is the likely candidate to line up alongside Isaiah Wynn and David Andrews at left guard.
Deatrich Wise Jr.
|Kyle Van Noy|
Myles Bryant, Michael Jackson
The linebacker unit was an area that needed some addressing by the Patriots this offseason and they were able to improve that unit with some solid talent. Matt Judon was New England's first big splash in free agency on the defensive side this offseason and the former Ravens linebacker's balanced skillset will make him a fascinating chess piece to follow throughout the year. New England also brought back linebacker Kyle Van Noy after a one-year absence once he was released by the Miami Dolphins. Of course, the Patriots are also getting Dont'a Hightower back after the linebacker opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, meaning that the defense is getting one of its main leaders back into the fold, which should only help as they look to regain the reputation of being a top-flight defense in 2021.
Jalen Mills is also another figure to watch this season. The cornerback was another one of the Patriots' big free-agent signings this offseason, inking a $24 million contract. In Philadelphia, Mills showed the ability to play both corner and safety. That versatility could be on display during his first season in Foxborough, especially after the club lost Jason McCourty in free agency.
On top of Edelman retiring this offseason, the Patriots also saw Patrick Chung call it a career. Chung had opted out of last season and now it'll be up to Adrian Phillips and second-year safety Kyle Dugger to fill his shoes on a more permanent basis.
Roberto Aguayo, Quinn Nordin*