New England Patriots

Given their options, and the pricey nature of using the tag, it’s hard to picture the Patriots franchise tagging any of their pending free agents this year. That being said, it seems like Belichick tends to use the franchise tag when it’s least expected (like he did in 2020). If he does, it’s highly likely it will be on one of the three players above.

By Alex Barth,

The Patriots and teams around the NFL will be ramping up into Phase Three (full-speed practices) of the league’s offseason program this week. That means the COVID preventative measures worked on this offseason will be on full display as contact begins.

Monday morning, ahead of the Patriots first Phase Three practice, Bill Belichick spoke with the media, who had a number of questions about what will change with the new regulations this year. Here are the highlights:

Controlling the Controllables

Two of the most notable absences from Patriots training camp this year will be of course the fans, as well as joint practices, which have become a mainstay in recent years.

Asked about losing the energy of the crowd, Belichick said the team will have to “control what we can control.” In terms of missing joint practices, Belichick added that the Patriots will have to manufacture game-like competitive environments to help with both situational practice and player evaluation.

Fighting COVID is a team effort

Adaptability on the field has long been one of the hallmarks of Bill Belichick’s Patriots teams. Now, it appears they’re taking that same approach with COVID prevention. Asked about being one of the few teams in the NFL to not place a player on the COVID list so far, Belichick replied, “I think the team has approached this very professionally. We’ve changed quite a bit a more information or techniques or products or whatever have become available.”

According to Belichick, the team has heavily involved the players when working on their prevention plan, including regular feedback as practices began.

Ahead of the game

As contact drills begin, there has been no shortage of talk about the modified face shields some NFL players will wear this year. The Oakley shields debuted in July, but according to Belichick the Patriots began discussing a similar devise as early as May. He added that if Oakley had not put their product into production, the team would have likely found a manufacture to produce them themselves.

The Patriots will begin Phase Three practices Monday when they take the field at 10:00. will have all your updates, plus reactions from players speaking after.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at