There's no way to get around it: The New England Patriots had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.
The departure of Tom Brady, the franchise's greatest player and arguably the best quarterback to ever play in the National Football League, left not only a massive hole in Pats' fan hearts but also in the team's offense. There appears to be no contingency plan for Brady's departure, despite signs over the past few years that his relationship with head coach Bill Belichick had deteriorated.
According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, Belichick reportedly offered Brady, not Jimmy Garoppolo, in a trade to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017.
"[Patriots owner Robert] Kraft shut that s--t down fast," a source close to Belichick told Miller. From then on, the trio of Kraft, Brady and Belichick was basically a house of cards. According to NBC Sports Boston's Tom Curran, there were never any overtures made by New England to sign Brady this offseason, leaving it to the 42-year-old quarterback to initiate any conversations.
Instead, Brady balked and opted to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he has a fully guaranteed $50 million deal over the next two seasons, along with a surrounding cast of talented receivers and tight ends.
Meanwhile, all questions in Foxborough, Massachusetts, revolve around who will replace TB12.
Winston Unlikely to Garner Pats' Interest
Slated to be New England's starting quarterback when the season opens in September is 23-year-old Jarrett Stidham, who has completed all of two passes in his short NFL career. It's hard to believe that the Patriots wouldn't make some sort of move to bring in a veteran quarterback, especially with Andy Dalton and Cam Newton available via trade and Jameis Winston on the free-agent market.
But at least with the latter, it doesn't seem the Patriots will have much interest. According to NFL Network's Michael Giardi, it's "unlikely" that the team will show any serious interest in the 26-year-old. Despite his penchant for big plays, Winston has been a turnover machine. Last season, he accounted for 42 turnovers (30 interceptions, 12 fumbles) while still managing to throw for more than 5,000 yards. It's also hard to see his eccentric personality and playing style meshing with the stoic, brooding Belichick.
Instead, we will wait to see whether New England moves on a proven veteran like Dalton, who would serve as a bridge to either Stidham—if he's determined to be the long-term fit—or a quarterback drafted in this year's class.
New England Has Interest in Wolfe
Elsewhere, the Patriots are reportedly interested in beefing up the interior of their defensive line, part of a unit that was regarded by most as the best defense in the league last season.
According to the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels, that beef could come in the form of ex-Denver Broncos defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. The 30-year-old had a career-high seven sacks and 12 quarterback hits in 12 games last season before he went down with a dislocated elbow.
Belichick's vaunted defense is in desperate need of pass-rushers after losing linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, and the team is also thin on big bodies on the line. At 6'5" and 285 pounds, Wolfe provides both of those things, as well as the versatility to play multiple positions up front. He has injury concerns after missing significant time in 2013, 2017 and last season, but when healthy, he started all 106 games he played in Denver and was an integral part of the team's Super Bowl run in the 2015 season.
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