MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Kansas City Chiefs’ dramatic Super Bowl LIV victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday officially closed the book on the 2019 NFL season.
As the league now shifts its sights to 2020, here’s a look ahead for the New England Patriots, who have been in offseason mode since their wild-card loss to the Tennessee Titans four weeks ago:
Feb. 23 to March 2: NFL Scouting CombineThanks to their unusually early playoff exit, the Patriots were able to send a large contingent of coaches to the 2020 Senior Bowl. The next tentpole event in the pre-draft process is the combine, which takes place later this month in Indianapolis. While there, Patriots coaches and personnel staff will have the opportunity to interview draft prospects while learning valuable information about their measurables and athletic profiles.
March 10: Deadline for teams to designate players for franchise or transition tagThe Patriots don’t have any obvious candidates for those tags this offseason
March 16: Free agent tampering period beginsImpending free agents are free to begin negotiating with other teams.
March 18: Free agency beginsEvery NFL player who is not under contract with his current team through the 2020 season will hit the open market at 4 p.M. ET on March 18, the first day of the new league year. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the obvious headliner here, but he’s far from the only impending free agent the Patriots need to worry about. A total of 19 New England players are set to hit either unrestricted or restricted free agency, including key pieces like safety Devin McCourty, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, left guard Joe Thuney and special teamer Matthew Slater.
Here’s the full list:
QB Tom BradyDT Adam Butler (RFA)LB Shilique CalhounLB Jamie CollinsDE Keionta Davis (RFA)WR Phillip DorsettST Nate EbnerOL Jermaine Eluemunor (RFA)OL James FerentzK Nick FolkOL Ted KarrasS Devin McCourtyOT Marshall NewhouseLB Elandon RobertsDT Danny SheltonST Matthew SlaterG Joe ThuneyLB Kyle Van NoyTE Ben Watson
April 23 to 25: 2020 NFL DraftAnother silver lining from the Patriots’ disappointing postseason: They own the 23rd overall pick in this year’s draft, which, if they keep the pick, it would be their highest original (i.E. Not acquired via trade) selection since 2006.
New England is expected to have a total of 12 picks to work with this year — including four projected compensatory selections (two third-rounders, two sixth-rounders) — but currently owns just one in the top 86 after trading its second-rounder to the Atlanta Falcons for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
Don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick swings some sort of deal to close the gap between Nos. 23 and 87.
First round (23rd overall)Third round (87th overall)Third round (compensatory)Third round (compensatory)Fourth round (via Chicago)Sixth round (via Denver)Sixth round (via Houston)Sixth round (compensatory)Sixth round (compensatory)Seventh round (via Philadelphia)Seventh round (via Seattle)Seventh round (via Atlanta)
The Patriots’ draft needs will vary based on how they proceed in free agency and the trade market, but finding a promising young tight end should be near the top of their offseason priority list. Wide receiver, edge rusher, interior offensive line, safety, defensive line, linebacker and quarterback are among the team’s other potential needs.
Late May through mid-June: Organized team activities and mandatory minicampIf Brady does wind up re-signing with the Patriots, will he skip voluntary OTAs for the third consecutive spring? That move didn’t bite the Pats during their Super Bowl-winning 2018 campaign, but a lack of connection between Brady and any pass-catcher not named Julian Edelman or James White severely hamstrung New England’s offense this season.
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