Coming off an injury-plagued year with a team that could’ve done so much better last season, the New England Patriots look to continue their winning ways this upcoming season. With a few quiet (and not so quiet) moves this offseason, they seem to be the early favorites to win the Super Bowl. But then again, when aren’t they?
Let’s start off by mentioning arguably one the biggest moves of the offseason; Patriots trading Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick. People were shocked when hearing of this blockbuster trade, especially Pats’ fans. Jones was the Patriots leader in sacks with 12.5. Jones is only 26 and is still looking to improve. So why would the Patriots pull the trigger on sending Jones to Arizona? Well, the Patriots got back Jonathan Cooper, who is also 26 and a former top-10 pick, and a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft. The Patriots needed help on their offensive line and definitely could’ve used an extra draft pick. With this trade, the Patriots will have four draft picks in the top 96 of this year’s draft.
The Patriots then signed free agent DE Chris Long of the Rams shortly after the Jones trade. He will be a huge assistance to this team on defense. They’ll be looking for Long to replace Jones when it comes to rushing on passing downs.
The Patriots also added depth to Jones’ position with signings of linebackers’ Shea McClellin of the Bears and Ramon Humber of the Saints.
The Pats then acquired TE Martellus Bennett from the Bears for a fourth and sixth-round draft pick. The Patriots now have a two-headed monster at the tight end position. Bennett ranks second among tight ends in yards after contact, only behind Rob Gronkowski. This trade was deadly for the Patriots, who frequently run two tight end sets. In a conference call with reporters, Bennett expresses his excitement for playing with Gronk, saying,
“There are some things that he does that I don’t do, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of things that I do that he doesn’t do. So it will be a good challenge to push each other and continue to help us grow as individual players as well as a tandem, to do whatever we can to help the team.”
The Patriots should be excited to have these two players playing alongside each other and pushing each other to their limits. Look for the Pats to take advantage of this situation that they have.
And lastly, if the Pats never had so many injuries last year would it have even been a question if they would’ve won it all? Health seemed to be the biggest issue for the Patriots last season; and with injuries to notable players like Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Gronkowski, and Dion Lewis all year round, it’s hard to adjust every week when there seemed to be a different player with an injury. If the Patriots could’ve stayed healthy most the year then their record could’ve been much different and given them different matchups in the playoffs and maybe have made it to the Super Bowl. Those are all ‘what-ifs?’ but it’s still something to think about.
With the newest acquisitions, the Patriots made this offseason, I expect them to be atop of the mountain this season and win the Super Bowl. With players having the offseason to heal their injuries, I don’t see why the Patriots wouldn’t win if they can stay healthy. I had them winning last season before injuries, but after all those injuries occurring it was tough to see them winning it all. I know non-New Englanders are tired of seeing it but expect the Patriots to have another winning season and potentially another Super Bowl ring for Tom Brady.