Off Day Mailbag: Biggest mistake of Patriots' offseason


Welcome to another Off Day Mailbag where Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable answer questions leftover from their weekly podcast.

Look for @OffDayPod seeking questions for the podcast and mailbag. Tweet your questions to that account and then look for them to appear in the podcast, mailbag, or even both. 

Let’s get right to it.

Why wasn’t the TE position not seriously addressed in the offseason? I’m not asking for Gronk 2.0 but LaCosse or even ASJ can’t be considered to be seriously addressing that position. (@Ben_Alex_86)

You’re exactly right and this was the Patriots’ biggest mistake of the offseason. They did not plan for the loss of Rob Gronkowski despite getting numerous indications the last few seasons that he was getting ready to retire. Some of it could be on Gronkowski for letting them know a few weeks into free agency, but why didn’t the Patriots put some pressure on him before that to get a real answer? When he did retire, there weren’t many options available. It’s also worth wondering why the position wasn’t addressed via the draft the last couple of years. Multiple good tight ends were selected, and it’s not like a top draft pick needed to be used to get one. Gronkowski could have helped mentor the new tight end so he was ready to contribute whenever Gronkowski did step away. The lack of production from the tight end position is one of the biggest issues with the offense this season, and it all began during the offseason.

— Ryan Hannable

If you have to say it right now... How deep into the playoffs do the Patriots make it? Also, more likely, N'Keal Harry makes it through his rookie deal with the Patriots or he is being traded/cut earlier? (@VicMartin_86)

Right now a seemingly safe bet would send New England to the AFC title game for the ninth straight January. Bill Belichick’s team is in line to host a game on Divisional Weekend as the No. 2 seed. While I don’t think that game will necessarily be a lay-up depending on the opponent, the Patriots have earned the benefit of the doubt. That said, I can’t pick this team to go to the Super Bowl right now, not given its struggles to beat playoff-caliber teams, especially on the road. As for Harry, my best guess based on the limited sample size is that Harry will make it through his rookie deal but not get the fifth-year option that is part of contracts for first-round picks. After four years I could see him moving on to take his physical potential elsewhere. I still don’t feel good about his long term future as a high-end, consistent target.

— Andy Hart

Do the Patriots beat the Bengals if Edelman can’t go? (@ChriswithaTIAN)

Yes. While I wrote this week that Edelman is essentially the Patriots offense these days, his absence still wouldn’t be enough for me to pick New England to lose on the road to Andy Dalton and a one-win Cincy squad. Tom Brady will still be there. Bill Belichick will still be there. An elite defense will still be there. New England has enough to beat a team vying for the No. 1 overall pick with or without Edelman.

— Andy Hart

Do you think the Bengals will play a dirty game, if they perceive the Patriots’ filming as cheating? (@RandTtocs99)

No, I do not think the Bengals will play a dirty game. I do think this has the potential to be a Patriots revenge game and the Bengals will pay the price. Now, this Patriots team may not have the ability to score 40 points like some past ones, but don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick and Co. have a little more motivation going into this one and don’t take their foot off the gas until the very end. I do not believe the Bengals went about things the right way, and they could pay for it come Sunday.

— Ryan Hannable

Dez Bryant, do we kick the tires on him or any other veteran before the end of the season? Edelman hurting Sanu not exactly working out. Love Dorsett but he’s not a #1 or even #2. No TE. What are gonna do throw to White & plexiglass Meyers? (@Ryong901)

Not sure why Meyers deserved the “plexiglass” shot at the end of this question. The undrafted rookie has been the most consistent Patriots receiver this year not named Julian Edelman. Beyond that, I have no interest in Dez Bryant. I thought he was done a couple years ago before his torn ACL with the Saints. He was never a precise route runner, but more of a red zone bully. I don’t think he’d really bring much to the offense, especially this late in the process. To be honest with you I’d much rather see N’Keal Harry get more chances than bring Bryant aboard. No thanks.

— Andy Hart