What’s next for the New England Patriots?
The New England Patriots suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Tennessee Titans 20-13 this past Saturday night. The Patriots have been a hot topic all season, as offensive woes and their superstar quarterback Tom Brady’s decline were easy talking points. As the woes were on full display against the Titans, in which Brady threw a game-sealing interception on his last offensive play, questions about where the Patriots go from here have arisen.
If the end of Brady’s reign with the Patriots and the Patriots dynasty is among us, though, then it’s been one hell of a run the last 20 years. In this time span, Brady and Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, accomplished six Super Bowl titles, nine Super Bowl appearances, 219 wins, and 17 AFC East divisional titles. Whether this run will ever be matched again is highly unlikely, but it also highlights why if this is the end, will Tom Brady return to New England next season?
The Patriots have a few options to chose from, but they must choose the route they want to take very wisely. Brady is a free agent this upcoming offseason and he will be 43 in August. Bill Belichick is 67 years old and isn’t getting any younger. While the Patriots are talented, they obviously weren’t talented enough to make it out of the first round, even with their famous Patriot Way set in stone.
But the nucleus of the Patriots moves starts with whether the Patriots will want to offer Brady a new contract for the next two, maybe three years. Brady has done more than his share in his career to be able to come to a meeting room and have a blank check waiting. Six Super Bowl wins and three MVP’s says enough.
But do the Patriots want to give Brady this type of leverage at his current age of 42? Brady has already stated that he didn’t want to retire, and he wasn’t going to offer the Patriots a hometown discount. What Brady said without saying it exactly: he’s the franchise and they should cater to him.
While Brady isn’t wrong for wanting to maximize his next deal, it’s going to be hard-pressed to see the Patriots giving Brady the contract he desires after how he tapered off in the back half of the 2019 season. Yes, Brady has given the Patriots more than their share of extra money for the teams’ benefits. But giving an aging quarterback the large contract he wants is a hard image to envision.
With that said, if it’s between catering to what Brady wants, or rebuilding the team around more talented players, the Patriots could and should pick the latter. Of course, Brady is the greatest player to ever play in the NFL. And yes, Brady fit the ethos that Belichick wanted for a leader. But talented players come into the NFL every day. It would be smart for the Patriots to bet on their war room draft skills, free agency evaluations, and pick a quarterback and players who fit their culture.
Because in the end, strong cultures are designed for moments like this: when something happens from within, a key player leaves or a coach moves on to another position, the infrastructure built from within is supposed to hold everything together. The Patriots have been through this before: talented players such as Richard Seymour, Randy Moss, Darrelle Revis have come and won with the franchise. The Patriots haven’t missed a beat since their departures. And if they bet on their culture and systematic operation they have in place, the Patriots have a chance to not miss a beat without Brady, too.
In the end, the Patriots must look out for the organization first and foremost. Brady will forever be immortalized as a Patriot and NFL great. His story from sixth-round draft pick to six-time Super Bowl champion is the ultimate rags-to-riches-story in sports. Brady has given kids hope to never give up on their quest for greatness.
But all greatness has an expiration date, and Brady’s is looking like it’s coming sooner rather than later. If the Patriots know better, they will recognize this and go their separate ways. In situations like this, it’s never personal, always business. The true essence of The Patriot Way.