While the Patriots have been out of the mix for quite some time, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, even on Championship Sunday there was still plenty to discuss relating to the team.
Of course, Tom Brady was at the top of the list, getting to his 10th Super Bowl and first not with the Patriots, but there were several other items to come up, including off the field that could potentially have some impact in New England this offseason.
Here are five Patriots-related thoughts from the weekend.
All Tom Brady does is win
Regardless of how you feel about him and the way things ended in New England, it’s impossible for anyone to not appreciate what he’s doing. In two weeks the quarterback will play in his 10th Super Bowl, which is 18% of all Super Bowls ever played. He’s also been a starting NFL quarterback for 20 seasons and he’s reached the big game in half of them. Just absolutely mind-boggling stuff. While he wasn’t at his best Sunday (especially in the second half), he still was able to do enough to win, and isn’t that the No. 1 stat when it comes to playing the quarterback position?
Bill Belichick vs. Tom Brady debate isn’t settled
With Brady advancing to the Super Bowl in his first year with Tampa Bay and Belichick and the Patriots finishing 7-9, missing the playoff for the first time since 2008, many have declared Brady the winner between the two. While there’s no question Brady got the best of things this season, it certainly isn’t over. What if Belichick and the Patriots get things turned around quickly and reach the Super Bowl in two or three years? What if Brady struggles in 2021 and the Bucs miss the playoffs, while the Patriots get there? It’s way too early to settle this debate and honestly, there probably never should/will be a winner between the two.
AFC will likely go through Kansas City and Buffalo for awhile
If the Patriots want to go back to their recent dominance any time soon, they should immediately look to being better than the Chiefs and Bills. Not only were these two teams the best in the AFC this year, they are setup for the same success over the next several years. Both have young quarterbacks entering the prime of their careers and are locked into contracts for several years, and the same goes for playmakers to go along with them. Travis Kelce is signed through 2025 and while Tyreek Hill is a free agent after next season, there’s Mecole Hardman who could immediately step in and replace him. In Buffalo, Stefon Diggs is signed through 2023 and then Tre’Davious White is locked in through 2025.
Matthew Stafford situation
Stafford and the Lions are moving on, as Detroit will look to trade its franchise quarterback this offseason. New England isn’t the most likely of destinations for a few reasons, but the domino effect could help them land their next quarterback. One of the teams who reportedly will have a lot of interest is the 49ers, which would likely mean they would move on from Jimmy Garoppolo to potentially setup a return to the Patriots. It does complicate things via the draft as it means another team selecting ahead of them will be in the quarterback market. As of now, and yes it’s still very early in the process, but it feels like the Patriots will be better off getting their next quarterback in free agency or trade and not the draft.
Aaron Rodgers moving on from Green Bay?
This sort of came out of nowhere following the Packers’ loss to the Buccaneers where Rodgers said his future with the Packers is uncertain. It doesn’t feel like the 37-year-old is contemplating retirement, rather wanting out of Green Bay. This could stem from the team drafting Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft or really anything given how Rodgers thinks. His contract would leave Green Bay a ton of dead money against the cap if he’s traded, but perhaps it turns into a situation like Deshaun Watson in Houston where the QB wants out at all costs. Ultimately, our gut says cooler heads will prevail and things will ultimately work out between he and the franchise, but this obviously is a huge story and needs to be monitored as the weeks go by. If made available, it would be expected the Patriots would certainly do their due diligence, but if anything, it would add another layer to quarterbacks being available this offseason and who could be options for the Patriots.