The New England Patriots ended their offseason program June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: Reload to hopefully win a third Super Bowl championship in a four-year span. As Bill Belichick said in the final week of OTAs, “We need to move on to 2017. We’ve had enough parades, celebrations, enough everything.” The team’s aggressive approach on offense has had some asking if this year’s attack could rival the team’s record-setting 2007 offense. Grade: A-minus.
Move I liked: Trading the last pick of the first round, No. 32, to the New Orleans Saints as part of a deal for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Watching Cooks in spring practices, albeit in a no-pads setting, it is clear he has the precise route-running skills, top-end speed and mental acumen to be an immediate difference-maker at a position that has traditionally been challenging for the Patriots to draft and develop top-end talent. Based on what was available at No. 32, and also factoring in economic considerations, this was a slam dunk move.
Move I didn’t like: No upgrades to bolster depth along the interior of the offensive line. With limited picks in the draft (four), the opportunities weren’t plentiful, and it didn’t make sense to pay any big free-agent prices for backup insurance policies. So this could still be an area the team addresses as the regular-season approaches, eyeing contingency plans in the event they don’t have a repeat of 2016 when starting center David Andrews and guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason avoided major injuries and were a consistent presence in helping keep quarterback Tom Brady upright.
Biggest question still to be…
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