2020 Pats: WRs and TEs...Enough?

Shaky Walton

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During the latter phases of the 2019 season, there was a lot of discussion about Tom Brady and his demeanor. And about whether his skills had eroded at all.

Having gone to the Miami debacle in Foxboro, where I could get a good look at the entire field as contrasted with what the TV cameras show us, it was my observation that the biggest problem with the offense was that Brady's receivers and TE were not getting much, if any, separation. Whether that was down to speed, quickness or route running is beyond my data base. All I know is that I did not see many open guys.

Now Brady may have been dour because of Belichick or any number of other things. And he might not have been dour at all. But when I watched that game, my biggest takeaway was that the QB had reason to be annoyed. He rarely had anyone to throw to who was not a RB. And the D seemed to be aware of that too and seemed to be paying a lot of attention to the backs as possible targets.

So naturally I thought that BB would restock the WR position, as he did going into the 2007 season and at other times when the receivers were insufficient.

I expected Bill to take a receiver or two in the draft. It was billed as a draft that was deep in that area. He did not. Then I thought he might pick up a threat in free agency. Byrd might be that; but he looks more like Dorsett, at least on paper.

And other than Byrd, and renewed hope in Gunner to be something he was not in 2019, the Pats really stood firm at the position. We're left hoping that Julian is less banged up than last season, at age 34 and without whatever special connection he had with Tom Brady, and that one year of experience will make Harry more of a threat.

And then we have the two rookie TEs, each of whom seems interesting on paper, and neither of which has made a massive impression on the reporters who cover the team, which may not mean anything at all.

Now there are other issues, of course. The Pats are relying on rookie LBs to play a much bigger role on defense than BB teams have in the past. Hightower and Chung are not here. There's no kicker at the moment. And of course we don't exactly know what we have in Cam Newton. His health has been an issue for a while and the Pats' offense is probably quite different than what he's used to, though Josh is smart enough to tailor it for QB1.

But if I have a number one concern heading into this season, it's the ability of the WRs and the TEs to get open and make plays for the QB and the offense. I have way less concern about the RBs, but even there I don't know how well Newton will use them.

Do others see the receivers other than the RBs as a major potential problem? Or a minor one? Or not one at all? For me, this is very disconcerting and I'd be interested in how other folks here view it.

[Edited it to add the bolded and previously missing "one" above.]
 
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Saints Rest

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I see it as a major problem as I believe there will continue to be trickle-down effects both on Jules (as a team can now devote their best cover CB to him, as well as a double-team) and to James White (ditto), until some other WR or two shows that he can do damage.

Of course, I am half-expecting BB to come out with the wish-bone and never throw the ball more than 6 times in a game rendering this all moot.
 

BigSoxFan

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Major problem. Given Cam’s accuracy issues, Edelman’s age, and the lack of other talent, this passing attack is going to be a disaster, IMO. The goal will be for the running game and defense to keep things close so that we can at least keep teams somewhat honest.
 

Shelterdog

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You have essentially the least accomplished WR/TE groups in the NFL so hell yeah it's a major potential problem. I do have faith that with good line, mobile QB, and I suspect a strong running game that they'll be decent contributors, but that's faith in BB rather than in actual on field observations on anyone other than Edelman.
 

Garshaparra

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Hoping for a happy medium between last year's TE debacle and Hernandez/Gronk in 2010.

2010: 3 TEs, 16 TDs.
2019: 3 TEs, 2 TDs.

Let's go for 8 TDs between Izzo (we kept him?!) and the rookies.
 

tims4wins

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I think (or maybe hope) it will be less of an issue with Cam under center than Brady, due to their ability to scheme some guys open based on play action thread, as well as read-option. But it's probably wishful thinking.
 

Fishercat

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I'll put some optimism in here but I think it's a pretty major concern with everyone else

  • There is a real chance we see WR progression. I think we saw, generally, rookie wideouts took time to develop and rarely saw the field in the Pats system. An additional year for Meyers, Harry, and Gunner has no real downside especially as Harry was injured and Meyers/Gunner kinda got thrown in there by necessity. There will of course be some learning curve regression with a new QB and, you gotta think, a new system to learn, but I am also hopeful that it at least causes defense to be more afraid to flood the zone + double Edelman as it was before.
  • Cam Newton has a reasonable track record of success with big targets. Steve Smith was his early years binkie and much more in the Pats mold, but outside of that his best targets were Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandon Lafell, Devin Funchess, and Ted Ginn Jr. Outside of Ginn, all four of these guys are bigger, physical receivers. He also had some good experience with passing to RBs. This at least fits the current set-up of most of the WRs being 6'+, three large TEs, and several receiving backs on the roster. The early reports I'm seeing are much like last year: minimal separation from the other wide outs so we may need more fighting for the ball. With that said, this was also when Cam was a huge mobile threat and could keep that inner zone honest and often free up one on one coverage. If teams aren't as afraid of that now it's a harder sled.
  • As amazing as Tom Brady was (and probably how justified it was), he's always needed a level of trust in his wide-outs. There were numerous times last year when a WR would be open and Brady wouldn't make that progression or look that wide-outs way hoping that one of his preferred pass catchers had an opening. This usually worked out because Gronk was one-of-a-kind and Edelman could always find his way open, but it may give pass-catchers more leeway in acclimating to the offense.
With this said..a lot of hypotheticals and I think we're in for a really rough time on the WR front. I would imagine that a chunk of the lack of drafitng/acquisition was their internal presumption that Jarrod Stidham or someone like him would be the starting QB opening day in 2021 and be running a similar system. Newton coming in and winning the job within two months leads to a very different equation for better or for worse.
 

SMU_Sox

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It's a major issue. I'd also add Sony as part of the problem as he has been a lousy receiver so far.

My hope is that Byrd steps into being a decent 3rd option which I think he can be. This is how think things shake out. We have enough success throwing the ball to open up the run a bit. We run a lot of 12 and 21 to go with 11.

RBs:
Sony and Harris: 100-400 receiving yards
White and Burkhead: 700-1,000 receiving yards

900 to 1,300 yards

TEs:
Asiasi: 200-500 receiving yards (I think Asiasi could be the rare TE to actually produce in his rookie year
Keene: 0-200 receiving yards (I would guess Keene is not a factor in the passing game this year)
Izzo: 0-200 receiving yards (ditto)

Somewhere around 400-700 yards likely total.

WRs:
Jules: 700-1000 yards
Byrd: 300-600 yards
Harry: 200-600 yards (wide range because Harry is a ?)
Gunner/Meyers: 200-600 yards (wide range because of injury fill-in potential and Harry sucks potential)

2,000 to 2,500 yards.

I think Cam will finish somewhere between 3,300-4,000 yards in the air. A lot of these are big ranges but we're dealing with a ton of uncertainty.
 

Jimbodandy

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I think that we're going to see a shitload of 21 and 12 personnel and throw out of it sometimes. It will be throwback to the Corey Dillon era, except without actual Dillon.

IMO optimism around the WR group is pure wishcasting. If the running attack is useful, then the WR will get touches out of PA. If not, it will be a long fucking season.
 

Super Nomario

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I think that we're going to see a shitload of 21 and 12 personnel and throw out of it sometimes. It will be throwback to the Corey Dillon era, except without actual Dillon.
I think this will be plan A. I think this was plan A last year, and then they came out Week 1 and Sony ran 15 times for 14 yards and it was back to the Brady show. I think with Andrews back and presumably Wynn healthy, they'll run the ball better. But they can run the ball a lot better and still not run it well enough to base the offense around it. What happens when they fall behind and have to throw out of 11 personnel? That's my issue here.
 

SMU_Sox

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I think that we're going to see a shitload of 21 and 12 personnel and throw out of it sometimes. It will be throwback to the Corey Dillon era, except without actual Dillon.

IMO optimism around the WR group is pure wishcasting. If the running attack is useful, then the WR will get touches out of PA. If not, it will be a long fucking season.
The great thing is PA works whether your run game is good or bad. Also PA is effective even if you don't run much. LBs and box defenders almost always bite a bit. It's the most effective play in all of football. Agree with you on the optimism 100% - pure wishcasting.

I think this will be plan A. I think this was plan A last year, and then they came out Week 1 and Sony ran 15 times for 14 yards and it was back to the Brady show. I think with Andrews back and presumably Wynn healthy, they'll run the ball better. But they can run the ball a lot better and still not run it well enough to base the offense around it. What happens when they fall behind and have to throw out of 11 personnel? That's my issue here.
There is no good answer aside from if White isn't the RB in 11 we need 2-3 non-Jules receivers (including the TE) to step up or else our 11 will be ineffective. If Jules gets injured this WR corps is completely fucked unless there are massive improvements from the year 2 guys + Byrd fits in seamlessly. If Jules is hurt your 11 is: Harry/Byrd/Gunner or Meyers or a PS member. :eek: Bill is throwing a lot of spaghetti to the wall to see what sticks and at least they have quite a few WRs on the PS. Hopefully something works out but I am pessimistic.
 

Harry Hooper

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I think this will be plan A. I think this was plan A last year, and then they came out Week 1 and Sony ran 15 times for 14 yards and it was back to the Brady show. I think with Andrews back and presumably Wynn healthy, they'll run the ball better. But they can run the ball a lot better and still not run it well enough to base the offense around it. What happens when they fall behind and have to throw out of 11 personnel? That's my issue here.
Bedard has been repeatedly making the point that this is an offense that will not be able to come from behind. Sprinkle in a few injuries to WRs and TEs along the way, and it could get very ugly even when the score is 0-0.
 

bluefenderstrat

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Probably need to trade for a WR during the season and hope it's not an AB or Sanu repeat (they were awful acquisitions for very different reasons, of course).
 

EL Jeffe

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The great thing is PA works whether your run game is good or bad. Also PA is effective even if you don't run much. LBs and box defenders almost always bite a bit. It's the most effective play in all of football. Agree with you on the optimism 100% - pure wishcasting.



There is no good answer aside from if White isn't the RB in 11 we need 2-3 non-Jules receivers (including the TE) to step up or else our 11 will be ineffective. If Jules gets injured this WR corps is completely fucked unless there are massive improvements from the year 2 guys + Byrd fits in seamlessly. If Jules is hurt your 11 is: Harry/Byrd/Gunner or Meyers or a PS member. :eek: Bill is throwing a lot of spaghetti to the wall to see what sticks and at least they have quite a few WRs on the PS. Hopefully something works out but I am pessimistic.
This really isn't any different from last year though, no? 2019 had Jules, Gordon/Sanu, Dorsett, Meyers, 1/2 season of N'Keal, and the unholy LaCosse/Watson/Izzo combo. Skill wise, 2020 is no worse off (on paper). Whatever you lose from the Gordon/Sanu combo (and it wasn't much), should be--in theory--made up for in Year 2 jumps from N'Keal, Gunner and Meyers. Asiasi and Keene are less experienced but physically more talented than LaCosse and Watson.

To me, the 2020 offense at least has a chance. 2019 was built around a precision timing offense with Brady. Every receiver needed to be the exact right place at the exact right time or it would all fall apart. Obviously all passing games rely on a degree of precision and timing, but Brady wasn't able to extend plays. The OL absences didn't help matters there any, either. But mainly, due to so many rookies and 1st year receivers, guys were late to their spots--both due to lack of experience and processing route adjustments in real time, but also just physically limited players who lacked the quickness and/or physicality to get there. 2019 defenses could key on Jules and White and dare someone else to beat them. It generally wasn't pretty, even if the wins piled up.

Newton will hold the ball longer than Brady, and he'll also take off for chunk plays scrambling when those opportunities present themselves. Holding the ball also leads to hits and sacks, so it's not all sunshine and rainbows, but the receivers will get an extra beat to uncover. Teams will still key on Jules and White, but hopefully N'Keal and Asiasi (and maybe Gunner) will make more plays than the 2019 complementary receivers did. I also expect to see more zone with the running threat of Newton; too much man coverage leaves too many defenders with their backs to the ball on too many plays.

I don't expect the 2020 offense to light up the scoreboard (I hope to be wrong), but I think there will be more chunk plays--both through the ground and air. I'm expecting along the lines of 2018 Carolina before Cam hurt his shoulder. The Norv Turner offense had some Patriots vibes to it, but with a running threat at QB.
 

DJnVa

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I'm sorry, I'm a bad person--bad could someone correct the spelling of receiver in thread title?
 

Shaky Walton

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I'm sorry, I'm a bad person--bad could someone correct the spelling of receiver in thread title?
You may be a bad person, I don't really know, but that's a good catch. And WTF with spelling it out for wide receivers and then using initials for tight ends? Do better Shaky Walton!
 

Super Nomario

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This really isn't any different from last year though, no? 2019 had Jules, Gordon/Sanu, Dorsett, Meyers, 1/2 season of N'Keal, and the unholy LaCosse/Watson/Izzo combo. Skill wise, 2020 is no worse off (on paper). Whatever you lose from the Gordon/Sanu combo (and it wasn't much), should be--in theory--made up for in Year 2 jumps from N'Keal, Gunner and Meyers. Asiasi and Keene are less experienced but physically more talented than LaCosse and Watson.
Keep in mind that 2019 had two offenses. The O was OK half the year, when they had Gordon, Dorsett was used more effectively, and Meyers was playing more. Over the back half of the year, they dumped Gordon, Dorsett was used ineffectively as an X receiver, and gradually a totally ineffective Harry and a hobbled Sanu took on larger roles. The passing O, and therefore the entire offense, went to absolute pot over the last 8-9 games, even though the OL and run game were actually playing better.

So when we compare 2020 to the 2019 offense, we have to ask ourselves to which 2019 offense we're comparing to? It's not hard to imagine Y2 Harry playing significantly better than Y1 Harry. But he still might not be as effective as even hobbled 2019 Gordon, who averaged nearly 50 receiving yards per game. Damiere Byrd might be a lot better than Dorsett was over his last 7 games (only 111 yards and a putrid 38% catch rate), but will he be better than Dorsett was over his first 7 (286 yards, 64% catch rate).

All-in all, the 2019 Patriots offense was close to average. They rarely played average, either looking great (early in the year) or completely punchless (late). The picture in our minds is of the ineffective late-season offense, but the 2020 O can be better than that and still overall worse than the 2019 O.
 

Soxy

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This really isn't any different from last year though, no? 2019 had Jules, Gordon/Sanu, Dorsett, Meyers, 1/2 season of N'Keal, and the unholy LaCosse/Watson/Izzo combo. Skill wise, 2020 is no worse off (on paper). Whatever you lose from the Gordon/Sanu combo (and it wasn't much), should be--in theory--made up for in Year 2 jumps from N'Keal, Gunner and Meyers. Asiasi and Keene are less experienced but physically more talented than LaCosse and Watson.

To me, the 2020 offense at least has a chance. 2019 was built around a precision timing offense with Brady. Every receiver needed to be the exact right place at the exact right time or it would all fall apart. Obviously all passing games rely on a degree of precision and timing, but Brady wasn't able to extend plays. The OL absences didn't help matters there any, either. But mainly, due to so many rookies and 1st year receivers, guys were late to their spots--both due to lack of experience and processing route adjustments in real time, but also just physically limited players who lacked the quickness and/or physicality to get there. 2019 defenses could key on Jules and White and dare someone else to beat them. It generally wasn't pretty, even if the wins piled up.

Newton will hold the ball longer than Brady, and he'll also take off for chunk plays scrambling when those opportunities present themselves. Holding the ball also leads to hits and sacks, so it's not all sunshine and rainbows, but the receivers will get an extra beat to uncover. Teams will still key on Jules and White, but hopefully N'Keal and Asiasi (and maybe Gunner) will make more plays than the 2019 complementary receivers did. I also expect to see more zone with the running threat of Newton; too much man coverage leaves too many defenders with their backs to the ball on too many plays.

I don't expect the 2020 offense to light up the scoreboard (I hope to be wrong), but I think there will be more chunk plays--both through the ground and air. I'm expecting along the lines of 2018 Carolina before Cam hurt his shoulder. The Norv Turner offense had some Patriots vibes to it, but with a running threat at QB.
All of this, but especially the last paragraph w/r/t chunk plays.

I expect to see some three and outs, even some stretches where the offense looks lost, but I also expect more of a big play offense. They’re (hopefully) not going to have to string together methodical 10+ play drives to get in the end zone like they had to with Brady the last couple years.

It sounds counterintuitive to say that I expect them to run the ball more, but also get more big plays, but that’s also how I see this playing out. There will be chunk plays (hopefully lots of them).
 

Shaky Walton

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I'm pretty sure he doesn't think he's winning the SB and if anything, he thinks long game.
Then again, BB has the experience of winning a title with a lesser talent pool in 2001-2 and to a lesser extent, in 2018-19, so I would assume that he does think he has the chance to win in any season that is not a total shit show.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Then again, BB has the experience of winning a title with a lesser talent pool in 2001-2 and to a lesser extent, in 2018-19, so I would assume that he does think he has the chance to win in any season that is not a total shit show.
He had a better talent pool in 2001-02, at arguably. And this year being a total shit show is entirely up for debate.

Would you be happy if they traded another 2nd for a WR? Given the roster construction and the lack of quality young talent across the board, it'd be malpractice.
 

Shaky Walton

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He had a better talent pool in 2001-02, at arguably. And this year being a total shit show is entirely up for debate.

Would you be happy if they traded another 2nd for a WR? Given the roster construction and the lack of quality young talent across the board, it'd be malpractice.
It really depends on their record at the time, what place they are in overall in the AFC and the AFC East and the possible return.

Mine was the opening post. I am not very optimistic about this year, the receiving corps is a huge reason and yet I recall that the third WR on the SB 36 winning team was Charles Johnson. Bill has shown he can win with less in NE. Whether he can do that with this team and without Tom Brady is another matter. But I cannot categorically rule out a trade now.
 
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Papelbon's Poutine

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But I cannot categorically rule out a trade now.
Not the question I asked, but I do see your qualification about where they sit. I don't frankly find their seed all that important as opposed to if they can get through the roadblocks to pull off another miracle. KC & BAL are leaps and bounds beyond this team, then there's a half dozen that are ahead of them in conference or most optimistically even with them.

Comparing 2001 to now is ignoring a myriad of variables and factors, but if you want to bank on capturing that lightning again, I don't want to rain on your parade. Just factor in that chucking RBs and WRs and assaulting anyone on offense to disrupt timing doesn't work anymore. It's an entirely different league from nothing else than the rule changes.
 

SMU_Sox

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@EL Jeffe I was listening to PFF's Dwain McFarland (he's also a film nut) and Matt Waldman on Matt's pod talk about how good Russ Wilson is. And the thing I would argue in response is that scrambling happens on roughly 3-5% of dropbacks on average. Even mobile QBs just don't scramble that much. You can have designed roll-outs and that's fine but most QBs get the ball out quickly and even the ones who hold onto it are holding onto it for 3.2 seconds vs 2.3 (random examples). So I would temper some of that enthusiasm. Brady held onto the ball longer last year and the way he did it was by pocket manipulation and movement. He's the best in the game at that. It let's him extend a play without scrambling.

Cam might get more rollouts and scrambles but it's not like they are going to change WR route conversion concepts. Sure maybe there is some degree of scrambling and extending plays that Brady wouldn't but I don't think that's something to rest your hat on. And re: chunk plays: Brady actually had a decent deep ball and his deep accuracy was fine last year. Running wise you would need Sony Michel to get those if Harris isn't taking over and Sony was awful gaining chunks last year whether you defined them as 10 yard plus runs or 15 yard plus runs. Respectfully w/r/t chunk plays I will believe it when I see it. I guess I have pretty low expectations for this year from the offense.

One of the things Jeff Howe mentioned was that while Cam was good on running the initial play concept but he would have trouble making adjustments at the line when the defense changed what they were showing. That's 100% normal for a QB learning a new playbook in under 3-4 weeks. Brady's success reading the defense and knowing what route should be converted to isn't unique to the Patriots. But last year if we struggled because admittedly our receivers weren't where they needed to be because of lack of familiarity with the playbook and/or maybe the young guys had trouble picking it up wouldn't we expect the same types of issues from Cam (to a lesser degree than a rookie of course)?

I don't want to be all storm-clouds. I do I think with a good OL, TEs who can block, a FB, a mobile QB, solid RBs, and Jules (plus Asiasi who I believe will surprise in a good way) they could have an average offense. I don't think they will be top 10 but I could see anything aside from that because it is hard to peg their range. Super high risk though because you really only have 3 reliable vets as receivers: White, Burkhead, and Jules.

I hope I am wrong. I want to be wrong. I want Harry to emerge and Gunner or Meyers to be a solid Dola or more. I want the young TEs to immediately contribute and Izzo and JJ to destroy worlds as blockers. For Cam to get it right away. Let's see what happens. Sometimes I can be too negative.
 

DourDoerr

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Not the question I asked, but I do see your qualification about where they sit. I don't frankly find their seed all that important as opposed to if they can get through the roadblocks to pull off another miracle. KC & BAL are leaps and bounds beyond this team, then there's a half dozen that are ahead of them in conference or most optimistically even with them.

Comparing 2001 to now is ignoring a myriad of variables and factors, but if you want to bank on capturing that lightning again, I don't want to rain on your parade. Just factor in that chucking RBs and WRs and assaulting anyone on offense to disrupt timing doesn't work anymore. It's an entirely different league from nothing else than the rule changes.
In a vacuum I wouldn't want to do the deal of a 2nd for a WR - at least not an older WR. This is, however, a terrible time to determine if we should or should not be deal-making. If the Pats get out to a 5-2 record and some of the new players on D are doing better than expected, the O line is holding tight and BB knows this team "gets it," I think he absolutely would make a deal if the lack of a WR was keeping the team from serious contention. I think BB's committed to getting into the playoffs within reason as he knows injuries can take down a contender as well as a perfect game plan executed well. Sure, rules have changed, but the Pats' defensive backfield is an enormous advantage in today's game and one a team can grow on. A couple of picks can completely change a game's complexion. So, I agree it'd be a waste to send out a high pick right now, but I might feel differently in five or so weeks when my eyes have had a better look.
 

Soxy

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Sigmund Bloom had the correct response: "Cams first preseason was a disaster."

I was living in the Carolinas when Cam was drafted, so I saw a lot of him and those Panthers teams during those early years. Cam was awful during his rookie preseason. Then he went out and did this.

Somewhere in the archives at SOSH HQ is the opening week gamethread from 2011, where you'll find me basically saying over and over again: "uh guys Cam Newton is kinda awesome." To this day I have never seen anything like that from a rookie QB making an opening day start. And Cam was absolutely terrible during the pre-season. Anybody who retroactively says that they saw that performance coming is probably related to Cam Newton.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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In a vacuum I wouldn't want to do the deal of a 2nd for a WR - at least not an older WR. This is, however, a terrible time to determine if we should or should not be deal-making. If the Pats get out to a 5-2 record and some of the new players on D are doing better than expected, the O line is holding tight and BB knows this team "gets it," I think he absolutely would make a deal if the lack of a WR was keeping the team from serious contention. I think BB's committed to getting into the playoffs within reason as he knows injuries can take down a contender as well as a perfect game plan executed well. Sure, rules have changed, but the Pats' defensive backfield is an enormous advantage in today's game and one a team can grow on. A couple of picks can completely change a game's complexion. So, I agree it'd be a waste to send out a high pick right now, but I might feel differently in five or so weeks when my eyes have had a better look.
Fair and I think that involves taking a sober look not only at their record but also what's coming up. BB's never "given up" but there's clearly been years - as we've seen through the documentaries - where he's not blind to the limitations of the team. This team has a lot. If they go 5-2 with:
MIA
@ SEA
LV
@ KC
DEN
bye
SF
@ BUF

then I'll gladly eat my hat or a loaf of whatever you like. I look at that and see anything from 1-6 to 3-4. But let's say they do and all things fall into line and Jackson and Mahomes blow their knees out (or insert whomever you like), their roster is still below those teams, who also have pretty damn good coaches. Which is to say nothing of their own issues, their travel or how COVID ties in; then incorporating a WR - who's available and worth a 2nd - into a new offense that is still being learned by the QB? Sanu was a perfect match last year and came out crap and injured.

I'm not there. This roster needs an overhaul almost top to bottom; its too old and too flawed. They shouldn't be trading assets they need to grasp at straws, IMHO. But YMMV.
 

Shaky Walton

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Not the question I asked, but I do see your qualification about where they sit. I don't frankly find their seed all that important as opposed to if they can get through the roadblocks to pull off another miracle. KC & BAL are leaps and bounds beyond this team, then there's a half dozen that are ahead of them in conference or most optimistically even with them.

Comparing 2001 to now is ignoring a myriad of variables and factors, but if you want to bank on capturing that lightning again, I don't want to rain on your parade. Just factor in that chucking RBs and WRs and assaulting anyone on offense to disrupt timing doesn't work anymore. It's an entirely different league from nothing else than the rule changes.
I know it's different. The Ty Law Pick 6 would have been called back because of Vrabel's hit to the head, among other things. The comparison is not meant to be linear. The point is that a HC like Bill is likely not to consider himself and his team out so quickly given that he's lead teams that sure looked inferior, notwithstanding the rules, through playoff marches in his first and arguably his last SB winning seasons in NE. Seeding indeed isn't everything. But if Bill looks at his team as having a shot, then I would be more than fine with him parting with an asset like a second rounder for the right WR. Hell, if this team is going to compete, they will very likely need help at that position eventually.
 

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Fair and I think that involves taking a sober look not only at their record but also what's coming up. BB's never "given up" but there's clearly been years - as we've seen through the documentaries - where he's not blind to the limitations of the team. This team has a lot...then I'll gladly eat my hat or a loaf of whatever you like. I look at that and see anything from 1-6 to 3-4. But let's say they do and all things fall into line and Jackson and Mahomes blow their knees out (or insert whomever you like), their roster is still below those teams, who also have pretty damn good coaches. Which is to say nothing of their own issues, their travel or how COVID ties in; then incorporating a WR - who's available and worth a 2nd - into a new offense that is still being learned by the QB? Sanu was a perfect match last year and came out crap and injured.

I'm not there. This roster needs an overhaul almost top to bottom; its too old and too flawed. They shouldn't be trading assets they need to grasp at straws, IMHO. But YMMV.
I was a part of that thread when that card was first pulled - no one should ever go there again! It's lose-lose.

I'm with you on the unlikelihood of 5-2 as I don't see it either - it was just a random record that might indicate a hopeful sign going forward. We've got a brutal schedule the whole way through. Sanu's a tough comp for a trade as it was a perfect storm of bad all around and ended even worse, but I can't argue that it didn't happen. You mentioned COVID and it's obviously a big wild card this year. It's a huge sword over everyone's head and one of the intriguing questions is how much it affects BB's calculus.

An aside: are they still really old? We just chucked off a bunch of vets for rookies on D and, yes, we're taking on a QB in his thirties - but he's replacing one in his 40's.
EDIT: Just checked - yup. Maybe just old. As of Monday, they went from 32nd (27yo) to 27th (26.4yo).
 

EL Jeffe

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@EL Jeffe I was listening to PFF's Dwain McFarland (he's also a film nut) and Matt Waldman on Matt's pod talk about how good Russ Wilson is. And the thing I would argue in response is that scrambling happens on roughly 3-5% of dropbacks on average. Even mobile QBs just don't scramble that much. You can have designed roll-outs and that's fine but most QBs get the ball out quickly and even the ones who hold onto it are holding onto it for 3.2 seconds vs 2.3 (random examples). So I would temper some of that enthusiasm. Brady held onto the ball longer last year and the way he did it was by pocket manipulation and movement. He's the best in the game at that. It let's him extend a play without scrambling.

Cam might get more rollouts and scrambles but it's not like they are going to change WR route conversion concepts. Sure maybe there is some degree of scrambling and extending plays that Brady wouldn't but I don't think that's something to rest your hat on. And re: chunk plays: Brady actually had a decent deep ball and his deep accuracy was fine last year. Running wise you would need Sony Michel to get those if Harris isn't taking over and Sony was awful gaining chunks last year whether you defined them as 10 yard plus runs or 15 yard plus runs. Respectfully w/r/t chunk plays I will believe it when I see it. I guess I have pretty low expectations for this year from the offense.

One of the things Jeff Howe mentioned was that while Cam was good on running the initial play concept but he would have trouble making adjustments at the line when the defense changed what they were showing. That's 100% normal for a QB learning a new playbook in under 3-4 weeks. Brady's success reading the defense and knowing what route should be converted to isn't unique to the Patriots. But last year if we struggled because admittedly our receivers weren't where they needed to be because of lack of familiarity with the playbook and/or maybe the young guys had trouble picking it up wouldn't we expect the same types of issues from Cam (to a lesser degree than a rookie of course)?

I don't want to be all storm-clouds. I do I think with a good OL, TEs who can block, a FB, a mobile QB, solid RBs, and Jules (plus Asiasi who I believe will surprise in a good way) they could have an average offense. I don't think they will be top 10 but I could see anything aside from that because it is hard to peg their range. Super high risk though because you really only have 3 reliable vets as receivers: White, Burkhead, and Jules.

I hope I am wrong. I want to be wrong. I want Harry to emerge and Gunner or Meyers to be a solid Dola or more. I want the young TEs to immediately contribute and Izzo and JJ to destroy worlds as blockers. For Cam to get it right away. Let's see what happens. Sometimes I can be too negative.
I can't disagree with much of this. I will say that Cam is on the higher end of running QBs. Healthy Cam is running ~130 times a year. Russ is more 70-80 runs a year, with a few spikes. I'm not sure how many bootlegs we'll see. Carolina kept him in the pocket, his runs were designed or natural scrambles. My guess is that's how it will be in NE (pocket passing with designed runs and a few scrambles). Again, I'm expecting the offense to look similar to 2018 Carolina under Norv. I could be wrong (I often am).

Brady was (is) historically great at moving within the pocket, but he generally just didn't look comfortable last year. I have to believe that he just didn't trust his targets to be at the right spot at the right time (nor do I blame him for that). The amount of turnover at WR and TE in 2019 was crazy. 3 rookie WRs (if you're counting Gunner), midseason pickup in Sanu, new TE in LaCosse, Izzo was a redshirt, flotsam like Eric Tomlinson. 39 year old Ben Watson.

The continuity at WR is much better this year, at least. The 3 rookies are all back, Jules is Jules, and Byrd has played with Cam at least. Harry, Meyers, and Gunner at least understand the speed of the game. They've experienced route adjustments, and should have a better idea of where to be and how to get there.

Rookie TEs historically don't do much, but at least physically Asiasi and Keene can run and have explosiveness that was sorely lacking in the 2019 corps. Izzo has at least experienced live action. (Izzo isn't going to do anything)

In terms of chunk plays, maybe I'm just an optimist. In the running game, Burkhead and Harris have chunk potential. I'm not sleeping on JJ Taylor the first three weeks either. His long speed is marginal but he goes 0-60 as fast as any RB I can remember. Cam has a history of chunk scrambles. In the pass game, N'Keal's game is catching 50/50 balls, ball skills and catch radius. I do think he'll get more deep looks than what he saw in 2019. Gunner is a 2nd level receiver. Meyers is a 2nd level receiver too. Both rookie TEs have speed to run the seams.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Dec 4, 2005
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I know it's different. The Ty Law Pick 6 would have been called back because of Vrabel's hit to the head, among other things. The comparison is not meant to be linear. The point is that a HC like Bill is likely not to consider himself and his team out so quickly given that he's lead teams that sure looked inferior, notwithstanding the rules, through playoff marches in his first and arguably his last SB winning seasons in NE. Seeding indeed isn't everything. But if Bill looks at his team as having a shot, then I would be more than fine with him parting with an asset like a second rounder for the right WR. Hell, if this team is going to compete, they will very likely need help at that position eventually.
I'll stop draining the thread, but there's far more than pick 6 that wouldn't have happened. Faulk would not have been silent, let's leave that there.

BB certainly wants to win every week, but above and beyond anything we've seen is that he won't mortgage the future. A year too early than a year too late. Etc. He strayed with the AB deal and the Sanu trade, perhaps at the behest of Brady. He doesn't strike me as the type to get bit again. But again, I'll shut up now.
 

lexrageorge

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Jul 31, 2007
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I was a part of that thread when that card was first pulled - no one should ever go there again! It's lose-lose.

I'm with you on the unlikelihood of 5-2 as I don't see it either - it was just a random record that might indicate a hopeful sign going forward. We've got a brutal schedule the whole way through. Sanu's a tough comp for a trade as it was a perfect storm of bad all around and ended even worse, but I can't argue that it didn't happen. You mentioned COVID and it's obviously a big wild card this year. It's a huge sword over everyone's head and one of the intriguing questions is how much it affects BB's calculus.

An aside: are they still really old? We just chucked off a bunch of vets for rookies on D and, yes, we're taking on a QB in his thirties - but he's replacing one in his 40's.
EDIT: Just checked - yup. Maybe just old. As of Monday, they went from 32nd (27yo) to 27th (26.4yo).
I don't think it's outrageous to think that Belichick the Coach is going to put 110% effort into winning each and every game. He's essentially said over and over again he does not know how to coach any differently. Nor would his players expect any different. But Belichick the GM will indeed take a cold hearted approach to his roster when assessing his chances of contention. If they are 5-2, and help is available that doesn't hurt them in the long term, he will make a trade that some of us here will wonder about. If they are 2-5, it will be interesting to see if he sells of a piece or two.

Regarding age, pulling up the median age are Nick Folk (36, assuming he is counted in that average), Slater (35), Edelman (34), the McCourty twins (33), Cody Davis (31), and Cam (31). Laurence Guy, John Simon, Gilmore, Bethel and Burkhead are all 30.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Apr 12, 2005
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Let's not forget that the 2001 offense scored exactly 3 td's in 3 playoff games (and one of them was thrown by Drew Bledsoe).

That shit won't work in the winter of 2021.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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I don't think it's outrageous to think that Belichick the Coach is going to put 110% effort into winning each and every game. He's essentially said over and over again he does not know how to coach any differently. Nor would his players expect any different. But Belichick the GM will indeed take a cold hearted approach to his roster when assessing his chances of contention. If they are 5-2, and help is available that doesn't hurt them in the long term, he will make a trade that some of us here will wonder about. If they are 2-5, it will be interesting to see if he sells of a piece or two.

Regarding age, pulling up the median age are Nick Folk (36, assuming he is counted in that average), Slater (35), Edelman (34), the McCourty twins (33), Cody Davis (31), and Cam (31). Laurence Guy, John Simon, Gilmore, Bethel and Burkhead are all 30.
Every team has ten guys pulling the age higher. 30 isn’t a huge number weighing them down and one kicker out of 53 guys isn’t either. In comparison, they’re an older, slow roster. They need speed and youth. Across the board. I don’t doubt he tries to win every game. I also don’t doubt he’ll keep his assets.
 

Jimbodandy

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To accomplish what, in theory?

There's no way this team should be spending future assets so they can go 10-6 instead of 9-7 and sneak into a WC spot.
If there's a high value guy who's undervalued by his current team (a la Van Noy), yeah sure you make that deal. But agreed that a Sanu type deal is not the best idea.
 

Jimbodandy

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Jan 31, 2006
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@EL Jeffe I was listening to PFF's Dwain McFarland (he's also a film nut) and Matt Waldman on Matt's pod talk about how good Russ Wilson is. And the thing I would argue in response is that scrambling happens on roughly 3-5% of dropbacks on average. Even mobile QBs just don't scramble that much. You can have designed roll-outs and that's fine but most QBs get the ball out quickly and even the ones who hold onto it are holding onto it for 3.2 seconds vs 2.3 (random examples). So I would temper some of that enthusiasm. Brady held onto the ball longer last year and the way he did it was by pocket manipulation and movement. He's the best in the game at that. It let's him extend a play without scrambling.

Cam might get more rollouts and scrambles but it's not like they are going to change WR route conversion concepts. Sure maybe there is some degree of scrambling and extending plays that Brady wouldn't but I don't think that's something to rest your hat on. And re: chunk plays: Brady actually had a decent deep ball and his deep accuracy was fine last year. Running wise you would need Sony Michel to get those if Harris isn't taking over and Sony was awful gaining chunks last year whether you defined them as 10 yard plus runs or 15 yard plus runs. Respectfully w/r/t chunk plays I will believe it when I see it. I guess I have pretty low expectations for this year from the offense.

One of the things Jeff Howe mentioned was that while Cam was good on running the initial play concept but he would have trouble making adjustments at the line when the defense changed what they were showing. That's 100% normal for a QB learning a new playbook in under 3-4 weeks. Brady's success reading the defense and knowing what route should be converted to isn't unique to the Patriots. But last year if we struggled because admittedly our receivers weren't where they needed to be because of lack of familiarity with the playbook and/or maybe the young guys had trouble picking it up wouldn't we expect the same types of issues from Cam (to a lesser degree than a rookie of course)?

I don't want to be all storm-clouds. I do I think with a good OL, TEs who can block, a FB, a mobile QB, solid RBs, and Jules (plus Asiasi who I believe will surprise in a good way) they could have an average offense. I don't think they will be top 10 but I could see anything aside from that because it is hard to peg their range. Super high risk though because you really only have 3 reliable vets as receivers: White, Burkhead, and Jules.

I hope I am wrong. I want to be wrong. I want Harry to emerge and Gunner or Meyers to be a solid Dola or more. I want the young TEs to immediately contribute and Izzo and JJ to destroy worlds as blockers. For Cam to get it right away. Let's see what happens. Sometimes I can be too negative.
Nope, you're not at all too negative, especially considering that this schedule is the opposite of a cakewalk.

I get the people harking back to the 2001 season. Funny part looking back on that is that we were like the 7th team by point differential in the NFL, but lucky for us only Pittsburgh was objectively better than us by that standard in the AFC. So once we got past Oakland (basically the same as us) and upset Pitt, we only had to take on the Rams. Everything bounced right for us that year...everything. It was the dream season that wrought the regression to the mean of Tyree and Manningham. Sure, it would be a shame to rain on the parade of those that imagine "what if" everything went right again, but the brain wants what the brain wants also.

It's too many coin flips for me. 7-9 seems about right, and some of that optimism (IMO) comes from the fact that Harris is only out three weeks and just might make my dream of a functional running game possible. Only then will these wide receivers be something most likely.
 
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DourDoerr

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Let's not forget that the 2001 offense scored exactly 3 td's in 3 playoff games (and one of them was thrown by Drew Bledsoe).

That shit won't work in the winter of 2021.
Unless I've missed it, I don't think anyone is suggesting you can play the game of 2001 and expect to win in 2021. I think the point of the relevant posts was that a promising team always has a lightning in a bottle chance like in 2001. The fact that it was BB as HC the first time might inform his perception - he'll gauge what he has realistically, evaluate what game plan might be effective and possible and move his chips if he believes it's worth it. That said, Sanu's failure is also liable to influence him. Also, if there's a coaching staff that's evolved past the 2001 approach, it's the Patriots.
 

Shaky Walton

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Nov 20, 2019
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Unless I've missed it, I don't think anyone is suggesting you can play the game of 2001 and expect to win in 2021. I think the point of the relevant posts was that a promising team always has a lightning in a bottle chance like in 2001. The fact that it was BB as HC the first time might inform his perception - he'll gauge what he has realistically, evaluate what game plan might be effective and possible and move his chips if he believes it's worth it. That said, Sanu's failure is also liable to influence him. Also, if there's a coaching staff that's evolved past the 2001 approach, it's the Patriots.
This is exactly right. That the rules were different or times were different is irrelevant. The only point is that BB's experience with winning with a lesser team is likely to make him willing to believe he can do it again if he has a team that is in contention. As a result, I can see him making a bold move and trading a high value asset IF he sees that his his team has a chance. Categorically saying now that he will always know that this team is not that, and will never be that, seems wrong to me.

All that said, given the WRs/TEs, and the issues at LB to boot, I tend to doubt that Bill will be in the position to reasonably believe that his team has much of a chance. I hope that I am wrong.
 
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Phil Plantier

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I'm not going to be concerned unless the Pats have the same group of receivers after the (unfortunately early) bye.

Belichick always treats the first four weeks as extended preseason, and I think that will just be more exacerbated this year.

Reinforcements are coming. Remain calm.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I'm not going to be concerned unless the Pats have the same group of receivers after the (unfortunately early) bye.

Belichick always treats the first four weeks as extended preseason, and I think that will just be more exacerbated this year.

Reinforcements are coming. Remain calm.
Agree with this. I think it would be a really good sign if they can go 2-2 (or better, obviously) in their first four games. 1-3 would put them in a pretty tough position given how hard their schedule is this year, and if they're 0-4 then it probably makes sense to more or less ride with what they have a la the Red Sox and see which young/unproven guys can establish themselves as useful pieces going forward. (0-4 would also likely mean Cam hasn't done very well, which would raise the question of when, if at all, he should be benched in favor of getting Stidham some game experience, particularly if they're in "let's just get through the rest of this season" mode.)
 

bsj

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Forgive me here but I am pipe dreaming this a bit.

I feel like all things being equal ODBs salary hit moving forward is not really cost prohibitive ... for 2020. I mean hell, they could trade for him now and only be on the hook for the rest of 2020? Looks like 2021is not guaranteed until March 2021?

obviously the browns aren’t there yet. But if they continue to flounder...and pats perform well but need a wr...I could see the fit with that cap space that currently exists.
  • $40.95M guaranteed at signing (signing bonus + 2018 salary + 2019 salary + $2.75M of 2020 salary)
  • Remaining $11.25M of 2020 salary fullty guarantees on 3/20/2020
  • $12.791M of 2021 salary fully guarantees on the 3rd league day of 2021
  • 2021-2023 Roster Bonus: $1M (paid the 1st day of training camp if he reports)
  • Annual Workout Bonus: $250,000
  • 2022-2023 Escalators (each)
  • 96 receptions ($500,000)
    1,374 yards ($500,000)
    12 TDs ($500,000)
    $1M bonus for playoffs
 

mwonow

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Sep 4, 2005
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Forgive me here but I am pipe dreaming this a bit.

I feel like all things being equal ODBs salary hit moving forward is not really cost prohibitive? I mean hell, they could trade for him now and only be on the hook for the rest of 2020? Looks like 2021is not guaranteed until March 2021?

obviously the browns aren’t there yet. But if they continue to flounder...and pats perform well but need a wr...I could see the fit with that cap space that currently exists
  • $40.95M guaranteed at signing (signing bonus + 2018 salary + 2019 salary + $2.75M of 2020 salary)
  • Remaining $11.25M of 2020 salary fullty guarantees on 3/20/2020
  • $12.791M of 2021 salary fully guarantees on the 3rd league day of 2021
  • 2021-2023 Roster Bonus: $1M (paid the 1st day of training camp if he reports)
  • Annual Workout Bonus: $250,000
  • 2022-2023 Escalators (each)
  • 96 receptions ($500,000)
    1,374 yards ($500,000)
    12 TDs ($500,000)
    $1M bonus for playoffs
Isn't he a #2 receiver now? ;-)
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
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Jul 15, 2005
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Forgive me here but I am pipe dreaming this a bit.

I feel like all things being equal ODBs salary hit moving forward is not really cost prohibitive ... for 2020. I mean hell, they could trade for him now and only be on the hook for the rest of 2020? Looks like 2021is not guaranteed until March 2021?

obviously the browns aren’t there yet. But if they continue to flounder...and pats perform well but need a wr...I could see the fit with that cap space that currently exists.
  • $40.95M guaranteed at signing (signing bonus + 2018 salary + 2019 salary + $2.75M of 2020 salary)
  • Remaining $11.25M of 2020 salary fullty guarantees on 3/20/2020
  • $12.791M of 2021 salary fully guarantees on the 3rd league day of 2021
  • 2021-2023 Roster Bonus: $1M (paid the 1st day of training camp if he reports)
  • Annual Workout Bonus: $250,000
  • 2022-2023 Escalators (each)
  • 96 receptions ($500,000)
    1,374 yards ($500,000)
    12 TDs ($500,000)
    $1M bonus for playoffs
Maybe I don’t understand NFL contracts as well as I should. That being said, if what you’re saying is the Patriots should give $40.95 million up front, like a check for that amount on day 1, that will never happen.

It is way to risky for this ownership group to give that kind of payment to a guy that may not fit in, or really be able to help. For that kind of money, he has to be a sure thing.
 

DJnVa

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Maybe I don’t understand NFL contracts as well as I should. That being said, if what you’re saying is the Patriots should give $40.95 million up front, like a check for that amount on day 1, that will never happen.
That's not what that means. That was his guaranteed amount--it's not all upfront and a lot of it has already been paid (2018 salary, 2019 salary, etc.)
 

lexrageorge

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Jul 31, 2007
10,962
I think the cap hit to the Browns for trading him would be relatively minor, although I'm assuming without being 100% certain that the Pats would be on the hook for a pro-rated remainder of his $14M guaranteed 2020 salary after a trade.

The attraction to the Patriots is that there would be no dead cap hit for cutting him after the season if it came to that. Or they can just keep him for a $14M cap hit in 2021. The downside is that the Pats would need to give up precious draft capital, a real consideration for a team that does need to get younger in key areas, and competition for his services could be considerable. OTOH, if the Pats are 4-2 after 6 games, and the Browns are 1-5, and Odell is showing he's not yet finished as a #1 receiving threat, there are worse trade considerations.