Buffalo Bills fans need not be reminded about the Belichick-Brady dynasty and its fortitude for the past two decades. Acknowledgement to their greatness now provided, talking about the 2020 New England Patriots is talking about a very different team.
Since the 2019 season ended the Patriots have lost players. So has every team, you say. What’s the big deal, you ask? The Patriots have lost A LOT of players; and meaningful players at that. Players like LB Jamie Collins, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Elandon Roberts, DT Danny Shelton, S Duron Harmon, ST Nate Ebner, C Ted Karras, K Stephen Gostowski, WR Phillip Dorsett, FB James Develin, QB Tom Brady, and formerly-retired TE Rob Gronkowski. In an underrated loss, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired after a distinguished career, as well.
COVID is now contributing to more unanticipated turnover for the Patriots. So far six Patriots have elected to opt out of the 2020 NFL Season; LB Dont’a Hightower, S Patrick Chung, RB Brandon Bolden, T Marcus Cannon, FB Danny Vitale, and G/C Najee Toran. With Hightower opting out, the Patriots are now without their entire starting LB corp from 2019 having already lost Van Noy, Roberts, and Collins in free agency. Cannon was their starting right tackle in 2019.
Bill Belichick has made a career out of a “next man up” philosophy and moving on from players arguably too early rather than too late. Overcoming roster holes on paper with previously unknown commodities is not uncommon for New England and it’s something they’ve had much success with since the late 1990s. That being said, overcoming these roster losses in a shortened offseason with a less-than-ideal preparation environment would be another distinct feather in Belichick’s hat.