New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 18: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots looks on as he walks off the field during the game against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Welcome to Week 7 of the Patriots Mailbag, a.k.a. Patriots fan therapy time. After one disappointing loss surrounded by extreme circumstances, many of you seem ready to pull the plug on the entire 2020 season.

While there’s certainly some issues, everybody needs to take a deep breath and calm down. Let’s see if I can help by answering some of these questions…

No. Head-to-head, Newton is a far more talented quarterback than Stidham, and Belichick isn’t going to go away from that after a bad performance following two weeks without practice, and then two losses to elite defenses. He’s also not the kind of coach who will embrace a ‘bridge year’ (or let’s use the term you really wanted to, tank).

To go beyond that, the Patriots seem to already know they need to add another quarterback this upcoming offseason if Newton leaves. If they truly felt Stidham was the guy, Newton wouldn’t be here in the first place. This is Cam’s team as long as he’s here, and if/when he does leave, it’ll be an open competition for his spot.

Oct 5, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham (4) calls out a play against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of a NFL game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham (4) calls out a play against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of a NFL game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is the uncertainty around Newton will be solved by the time the draft rolls around, with free agency taking place in early March and the draft at the end of April.

If Newton finishes this season strong and is still in New England, the Patriots likely lean more towards a high-ranked day-two developmental QB in the draft while using the first round to get Newton more help. Guys who have fit that description in recent years are Drew Lock, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo.

If Newton and the Patriots part ways in March, it makes sense for them to invest highly in an NFL-ready arm. Trading up may be a stretch though. In the past, they’ve only done that in  years where they have an excess of draft picks. Right now, they’re slated to have only seven selections in 2021, before comp picks. Then again, they’ve never been in a situation where they need to draft a QB, so things could change.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots gestures at the line of scrimmage during the second half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 27: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots gestures at the line of scrimmage during the second half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

I would be shocked if the Patriots became sellers for a few reasons. First of all, none of the teams in the AFC East are great, and with their roster the division should still be within reach even after a 2-4 start.

Second, like I mentioned, Bill Belichick is not going to make his team worse and/or lose games on purpose. It’s not in his DNA. Think back to the scene in The Last Dance where they don’t put Michael Jordan in at the end of a close game so they can lose and get a better draft pick. He can’t wrap his head around the idea. It’s a mentality shared by the greats.

Finally, the return for trading players in-season is never the same as trading during the offseason. It’s not unrealistic to expect some major movement after the season, but the Patriots aren’t going to rush into that and make trades just to make trades.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during the game against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during the game against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Nope. Belichick knows as well as anybody it takes a short memory when coming to team building. Some moves work, some moves don’t. Just like you wouldn’t want a player to play scared or a coach to coach scared, you don’t want a GM trading scared. If he doesn’t make a move (which feels likely), it’s just because NFL in-season trades are difficult to begin with, and only complicated more this season by everything going on with COVID.

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu Sr. of the New England Patriots warms up prior to their game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu Sr. of the New England Patriots warms up prior to their game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Don’t hold your breath on that big trade. They almost never happen in the NFL during the season, and the COVID year makes it even less likely. If they do make a move, expect it to be a depth add on the defensive line or at linebacker.


I think Rudolph is the best fit, in theory. He’s a veteran, a strong route runner, excellent in the red zone, and he can block. However, his contract is a mess – he’s signed through 2023 with no outs and will have a cap hit of over $11 million at the age of 33. If he’d be willing to re-work his deal he’d be a great add, but that’s probably not realistic.

Engram has dropped more passes (21) than any tight end in football since he entered the league in 2017. He’s also still a work in progress as a blocker. Next.

Njoku is the best fit, all things considered. The 24-year-old is still on his rookie deal, which extends through the end of next season. He plays with a physical edge, and has proven to be a quick learner, two things the Patriots value. However, the cost is going to be pretty high. I don’t think he’d be a guy involved in a deadline deal, but he’s definitely a name to keep an eye on once the offseason begins.

The other name I’ll give you is Zach Ertz. I don’t think anything happens with him at the deadline, but if Philly bottoms out it’s likely there will be a new GM in place this winter. Ertz makes sense to move to acquire pieces to rebuild the roster. He’s one of the best tight ends in the league when healthy, and a change of scenery/better quarterback could do him some good. His contract isn’t too much of a burden, either.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – AUGUST 30: Tight end David Njoku #85 of the Cleveland Browns runs the ball during training camp at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 30, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Yes. Devin Asiasi’s usage has ramped up each game (with the exception of KC) and he’s getting open. Eventually, they are going to need to throw him the football to get the offense going.

Don’t rule out Dalton Keene either. The Patriots are (logically) taking it slow with him after he recovers from a neck injury, but the current offense is set up perfectly for an H-Back to succeed. If he gets into a game this year, expect him to make an impact right away.

New England Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi steps on the field before the start of an NFL football training camp practice, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

New England Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi steps on the field before the start of an NFL football training camp practice, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

Can this please happen? I would love to see ‘Mike in Quincy’ and ‘Brian in New Hampshire,’ who constantly complain about the Patriots lack of roster talent, step into an NFL practice under the eye of Bill Belichick.

‘Jordan in Watertown’ says he could run a better route than any of the receivers on the Patriots? Ok, do it. ‘Eric in Brighton’ thinks it’s so easy to block an NFL pass rusher. Show me. ‘Chris in Dorchester’ claims he can get off the couch and kick a 52-yard field goal? I’d like to see that.

I doubt we’d ever see something like this, but it’d be so much fun to watch the ‘broken dreams’ if the Patriots went ahead and ran with it.


Hopefully this look into the future has eased some of your doom and gloom concerns. If you want to focus more on just the game this Sunday, check out the Patriots Preview Podcast below.

Click here for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of the Patriots

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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 Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.