New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth,

It’s been a while since Patriots fans could focus so heavily on the upcoming offseason in early December. They seem to be taking advantage of this relatively unfamiliar situation, with the majority of this week’s Mailbag focusing on what Bill Belichick should do once the season ends. We’ll start by focusing on the man himself…

To start, Belichick has more or less already handed over the defensive coordinator reigns to his son Steve, at least in game. It doesn’t appear that the is still the defensive play caller.

As for him being the head coach and general manager, that’s a dynamic that should be advantageous. By one person serving both roles, there’s no loss of communication on how players should be used, or the overall end game in building the roster. To think one might distract him from the other is a bit of a logical fallacy, given how the two go hand-in-hand.

Oct 25, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline as they take on the San Francisco 49ers in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

They need to make more than three moves, but I see what you’re going for here. The first thing they need to do is reassess Stephon Gilmore’s situation. It’s unlikely for either side he plays under the final year of his deal as its currently constructed. If he’s not going to get an extension, a player-for-player trade could be very beneficial for the Patriots, who need proven NFL talent at key positions. I’ve seen a potential deal swapping Gilmore for Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, which would help out both teams.

Second, a veteran wide receiver is a must. Whether it’s Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, Juju Smith-Schuster, or one of the other big names in a deep free agent class, landing a workhorse pass catcher should be on Bill Belichick’s ‘to-do list.’

Finally, let’s talk about the linebacker position. We’ve seen what this defense looks like without Dont’a Hightower as a presence in the middle. Ja’Whaun Bentley may be a bridge answer, but he’s only under contract for one more year. The Patriots need a plan in place for when Hightower steps away from the game, similar to how Hightower was in place when Jerod Mayo retired. Whether it’s through a draft pick, trade, or free agency, adding a young MIKE linebacker should not be overlooked this spring.

Oh, and the most overrated Thanksgiving side dish is asparagus. You know what I want on a holiday about eating as unhealthy as possible? Vegetables.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 08: Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 08: Dont’a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

This is a very interesting question Jon, because it depends on what other moves are made before hand. Does Stephon Gilmore get traded for a big, red zone weapon-type tight end? Then the answer is somebody who will bring an element of speed, especially in the intermediate game. Will Fuller fits the bill there.

Maybe Damiere Byrd stays as the speed guy, and no tight end is added. Now you’re looking for a big body, contested catch guy. Enter Kenny Golladay or Corey Davis.

Does Julian Edelman leave? Add Cooper Kupp to the conversation.

If no other major pieces are added to the offense? Then you’re looking at a true top target, like Allen Robinson or Juju Smith-Schuster.

Dec 2, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) runs after a catch against Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tramon Williams (29) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve liked Bryant a lot since this offseason, and it’s good to be seeing him on the field. The biggest thing working against him right now is his size, which will likely dictate a change in position if he wants to stay in the NFL for the long-term.

In the few snaps he’s gotten in recent weeks, he seems to be playing free safety, which is a good spot for him at the pro level. It’s also a chance to carve out a role, as the team doesn’t really have a second deep safety behind Devin McCourty after trading Duron Harmon in the offseason.

For more on the Patriots upcoming offseason, specifically the situation at quarterback, check out the latest Pats Pod below.

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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