Sunday 7: When it comes to offseason spending for Patriots, offense may need to wait

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The Off Day Podcast
The Off Day, Ep. 211: Discussing Patriots' loss to Bills, looking ahead to offseason
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1. When it comes to needs for the Patriots this offseason, many have already advocated for a No. 1 wide receiver. While that is true and would certainly be helpful for Mac Jones, it may need to wait. The Patriots may have greater needs on the defensive side of the ball and they also do not have as much money to spend as they did last year. New England will go into the offseason with roughly $17 million in cap space for 2022, although more could be created by releasing/trading players already on the books. With that being said, there are very few players under contract for 2022 that it would make sense to part ways with to free up cap space since a lot of them have lots of dead money attached to them. The bottom line is the Patriots will not have much money to work with this offseason. In addition, they do not have a No. 1 cornerback under contract. So, whether that is retaining J.C. Jackson via the franchise tag/long-term deal, or drafting one in the first round, that will need to happen. And then the only linebackers currently under contract for next year are Jahlani Tavai and Harvey Langi. Money needs to be spent on that position, as well. That combined with the potential of No. 1 cornerback money, there likely won’t be enough left to spend on a big-name wide receiver. It feels like the Patriots will focus on defense this offseason, aside from potentially adding a dependable slot option on offense, before reevaluating things next offseason. After all, the offense is built to rely on the running game, which is still in good shape for 2022.

2. One thing relating to Jones that hasn’t been discussed as much as it should is how much he needs a mental break. Last year at this time he was coming off a National Championship win and immediately jumped into preparing for the NFL Draft. Then he was selected by the Patriots No. 15 overall and needed to learn an entirely new and complex playbook. After that he beat out Cam Newton during training camp and all that happened before he needed to play a full 17-game NFL season as a rookie. Jones needs some time to recharge before getting a full offseason in the Patriots system.

3. There was a lot of talk during the season and this past week of Jones needing some help when it comes to his supporting cast. How is this any different than even before the draft? This is who Jones is. He isn’t the next Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes with freakish arm strength or athleticism. He wasn’t the most pro-ready quarterback because of his athleticism or arm strength, it was more so because of his accuracy and intelligence. What the Patriots have is a very good quarterback who will consistently put the team in a position to win, and just how success they are may come down to giving him some above average talent to work with.

4. When it comes to thinking of end-of-the-year superlatives for the Patriots, who was the team MVP? There is not an obvious choice, which speaks to one of the reasons why the Patriots didn’t make it out of the divisional round — they didn’t have a truly game-changing player. Jones, J.C. Jackson and Matthew Judon are the players who come to mind with it ultimately likely being Jackson.

5. It is interesting Josh McDaniels has yet to be formally requested for an interview. The Raiders were a team mentioned with him late last week, but it would only make sense if Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler got the GM job. To that point, it was also interesting it was reported he was being requested for an interview even before it was reported former GM Mike Mayock was out. Maybe Las Vegas really wants the Ziegler-McDaniels combo.

6. Want a reason why Tom Brady likely won’t retire after this season like some have speculated? $15 million. When he signed an extension last year, he got a $20 million signing bonus, but $15 million of it won’t be paid until 2022. Yes, money isn’t everything to Brady right now, but $15 million is $15 million.

7. It seems likely at least a few of the head-coaching jobs around the league will get filled this week as no coaches have been hired yet. NBC Sports’ Peter King noted that 53 of the last 63 coaching vacancies were filled within two weeks after the end of the regular season. This year, none of the eight teams looking for coaches have hired one.