New England Patriots

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots ended up making no deals on the day of the 2023 NFL deadline. Here are five takeaways from the deadline, as the Pats look toward the second half of the regular season…

Playing To Win

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 22: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 22: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts during a game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

With apologies to those who hoped for a total firesale and blatant tank-job in New England, the Patriots were never going to go in that direction. Bill Belichick is reaping what he sowed after years of bad roster-building, and has shown a frustrating lack of urgency over the last couple of seasons. But he still wants to win as many games as possible.

And that my friends is how you tank. A poor roster that tries to win but simply can’t. And the Patriots probably will win a few more games in the 2023 season, much to the chagrin of a certain corner of lost souls.

The Patriots shouldn’t give up their soul. Which is that of a team that wants to win and strives for the highest level of success. Problem is, Belichick and the rest of the front office got in the way of that by building a substandard roster for a team with bigger aspirations than the worst record in the AFC. Even if the Patriots play their best possible football in the second half of the season, realistically, their best hope is probably 6-7 wins. They’ll have a high draft pick no matter how it goes from here.

Sunday in Miami exemplified the Patriots’ inadvertent tanking. They didn’t play horribly. They’re just not good enough, and don’t have the talent to compete with a team like the Dolphins. But at least they will keep working hard and competing, which people should want, unless you just want to be losers…

  • Back To The Future

    Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) and linebacker Josh Uche (55) react after making stop against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) and linebacker Josh Uche (55) react after making stop against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Welp, that was a fun few weeks of wondering what the Patriots could get for Kyle Dugger or Josh Uche. Now they’re here for the rest of 2023 – and should be here beyond that.

    Perhaps Dugger or Uche (especially the latter) don’t want to stay in New England, but if the Patriots are paying, they’ll have a good chance to retain them. Other players to consider for re-signing are offensive lineman Michael Onwenu, tight end Hunter Henry, and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, whose ACL injury likely tanked his market anyway.

    The Patriots owed it to themselves to sell off whoever they didn’t plan to re-sign. Now that they stood pat, they owe it to themselves to keep as many actual good players as possible. Which probably means they’ll keep none of them, somehow.

  • Winnable Games…

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Mac Jones #10 and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talk during the fourth quarter of their game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 21-17. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Mac Jones #10 and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talk during the fourth quarter of their game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 21-17. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    The Patriots kept their current roster intact for the remainder of their 2023 schedule. So not only did they signal to the football world that they intend to go down fighting, they gave themselves a good chance to win some of these eminently winnable games still on tap.

    That starts Sunday against the Washington Commanders, who just jettisoned their two best pass-rushers on deadline day. The Colts, Giants, Chargers, Jets, Steelers, and Broncos are all winnable, while the Chiefs and Bills look wonky.

    Based on the balance of the season so far, the best hope is for the Patriots to hover around .500 the rest of the way. But there’s an opportunity here for them to go on a run and at least feel like a winning organization for a while.

  • Draft Capital

    ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

    ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

    If the Patriots really aren’t going to re-sign any of their contract-year players, then they missed an opportunity to maximize their draft capital. After the 2023 NFL trade deadline, they currently hold their own picks from rounds 1-6, and the Chicago Bears’ seventh-rounder.

    Additionally, the Patriots have the compensatory draft pick formula to consider. If they go on another spending spree while letting their current free agents walk, they’ll probably get no comp picks back. They should know by now that overspending in free agency isn’t a recipe for long-term success.

    No matter what, though, the Patriots will have at least a pretty good stable of original picks. They just have, have, HAVE to draft better. Enough is enough with THAT.

  • Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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