1. It’s been the week of Mac Jones when it comes to the Patriots, as everyone has tried to find out as much as they can about the quarterback of the future for the team. Everyone has a different opinion as to when he will ultimately start games, but he is the long-term answer at the position the team has been looking for since Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay. One angle of the addition of Jones, who was selected No. 15 overall, that hasn’t been examined much is how does Cam Newton feel about the selection? This is new territory for the 31-year-old as ever since he was selected No. 1 overall by Carolina in the 2011 NFL Draft, he’s been the main option for his team at the position. Even last year with the Patriots he wasn’t really ever challenged by Jarrett Stidham. It will be a new experience for Newton and it will be interesting to see how he handles it. Last year, he was the ultimate teammate and earned a great deal of respect in the locker room among players and coaches. Newton was a huge supporter of Stidham over the course of the season, but will it be the same with Jones this year? There’s a chance at some point Jones proves he’s ready to start games during the year and at that point how would Newton handle a backup role? He’s said multiple times between the end of last year and this offseason he believes he’s still a capable starter in the NFL. It will certainly be interesting. With that being said, Newton has to understand the situation overall in that he wasn’t ever going to be the quarterback of the future in New England and the team is just doing what it needs to do when looking at the big picture and not just the upcoming season.
2. The retirement of Ernie Adams is another signal of a new era so to speak when it comes to the Patriots. Besides Berj Najarian, the Patriots’ director or football/head coach administration, no one is closer to Bill Belichick than Adams. The two have known each other since high school and Adams has been with Belichick even before he came to the Patriots. In the last two offseasons, Belichick has lost a few of his most important allies from his time in New England in Adams, Brady, Nick Caserio and also long-time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Belichick has elevated a few to new roles and it remains to be seen how it all plays out.
3. One person to keep an eye on when it comes to doing some of the things Adams did is Evan Rothstein, who came with Matt Patricia from Detroit this offseason. With the Lions, Rothstein’s official title was research assistant, but it seems he did a lot of the things Adams did with the Patriots. “Very, very smart guy — very smart,” former Patriots safety Duron Harmon said last year when asked about him. “Handles a lot of the situational stuff we do as a team, smart, understands the game. He has a good handle on it, and I put my trust in him to do what he has to do to put us in the right defense and make the right calls so that we can go out there and play fast. ... He has his meetings each week where he talks about tendencies, signals, cadences, you know, just all the little nuances of the game that a lot of people might overlook. He’s that guy who is pointing it out for us so that we can have a good tip or a good tendency that we can hold our hat on.”
4. The 2021 NFL regular-season schedule will be released this Wednesday night. The game everyone will be looking to for the Patriots is when they host the Buccaneers for Brady’s return to New England. Some have thrown out Thanksgiving night being a possibility, but that doesn’t make sense to us. Why would the league do that when no matter what game is shown during that time would get massive ratings? It feels like this will be one of the games FOX protects, which means it likely will be a 4:25 p.m. game at some point in the middle of the season.
5. One thing to keep an eye on for the Patriots is potentially being part of an International Series game and play in London. One of their road opponents, Atlanta, will play one of its home games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and given the Patriots’ popularity there, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the NFL schedule the Patriots for this game. They played an International Series game in Mexico during the 2017 season and then in London during the 2012 season.
6. New England has only signed one undrafted rookie free agent to this point and it feels like one of the major reasons for that is uncertainty as it relates to how things will look when the team gathers in full at the facility this summer. Last year, teams with 90 players had to do split-squads and that doesn’t seem like something Belichick would want to do. The Patriots currently have seven open roster spots that may just go unfilled.
7. Next weekend the Patriots rookies are scheduled to gather at Gillette Stadium for rookie minicamp. The NFLPA appears to be urging rookies and other players not to attend workouts this offseason, but it’s a different argument for veterans who have been around the league and same team for a long time compared to rookies and younger players. These players need all the coaching they can get and benefit greatly from what they learn during the offseason. This is why it doesn’t make much sense for Brady, who has over 20 years of experience, to be telling a rookie what’s best when they have zero.