With many around the NFL expecting a “seismic shift” in the league this offseason, the New England Patriots might be one of the teams who benefit.
While trying to bounce back in the new year while returning to the postseason after failing to do so last season, New England could have a prime opportunity to sign talent around the league with players now being available as free agents.
In early March following the team surprisingly signing free agent defensive end J.J. Watt, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill told the media he expects there will be a “seismic shift in talent across the NFL” this offseason. Bidwill stated that behind the assumption that teams will be strapped when it comes to the salary cap, which isn’t expected to increase this offseason as much as initially anticipated.
“You’ve got teams that are projected to be well over the cap. You’ve got teams that are projected to be well under,” Bidwill told the media. “There are going to be a bunch of surprises for people here in a few weeks when everybody has to get under the cap and free agency starts. And, my guess is, like I said, I see a big shift, seismic shift, in terms of the talent moving around.”
The reason this would play in the favor of the Patriots is due to the team’s current salary situation, which is one of the best in the NFL and allows New England the flexibility to be aggressive this offseason when other teams might not be able to do the same.
Coming into the free agency period, the Patriots have roughly $72.6 million in available space under the salary cap, according to Spotrac’s salary cap database. That total is the third-most in the league, trailing only the New York Jets ($82.3 million) and the Jacksonville Jaguars ($85.7 million).
There are a plethora of impressive and talented free agents that could hit the open market this offseason, many of which check the box in areas the Patriots need to try and fill before the new year begins.
Notably, those positions include quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive and defensive line, linebacker, edge rusher and defensive back. If you watched New England throughout the 2020 season, you know those positions were exposed and are part of why struggles occurred in a postseason-less campaign.
When it comes to the Patriots’ approach to the offseason, you would imagine that Bill Belichick and company will be as aggressive as ever, which is something we’ve seen take place a fair amount over Belichick’s tenure at the helm of New England.
But this offseason, the Patriots might be in one of the best positions of any other team in the NFL and the potential “seismic shift in talent” could benefit the team as it can offer contracts to free agents that not many other teams in the league can.
Although New England took a step back in 2020, it could be in for a franchise-changing offseason while attracting some top-notch free agents to take the field in Foxborough in 2021.