New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 29: Drake Maye #10 of the New England Patriots throws the ball in front of Bailey Zappe #4 during the New England Patriots OTA Offseason Workout on May 29, 2024 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The return of the 98.5 The Sports Hub Patriots Mailbag takes a look at where the team stands as they break for the summer, and looks ahead to the 2024 season.

It’s been a while since we’ve done a New England Patriots mailbag here at 985TheSportsHub.com. With the team breaking for the summer starting this week as the offseason workout program wraps up, it’s a good time to take stock of things and answer some big-picture questions, so the mailbag is back!

You guys had a range of questions, from what the Patriots can do before they return to the facility for training camp, what to watch for this season, and even into the regular season. There’s questions about players from the top of the roster to the bottom.

With that, let’s get into the questions you guys had this week. If you missed this edition of the mailbag don’t worry, we’ll be doing another one soon!

  • As things stand now, I’ll set it at 5.5. That’s slightly higher than many sportsbooks have it right now, but they’re also giving favorable odds on the under. While it will take more than one offseason for the Patriots to fully build back up after a 4-13 season, it also feels worth acknowledging that injuries did play some role in the overall outcome of last season. The returns of Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez, among others, will create natural internal improvement. If one or both of the rookie receivers can give the offense some kind of punch on top of that, that could be the difference in one or two more wins.

  • We’ll start with this year – I wouldn’t expect a return to the ‘Flying Elvis Shoulder’ 90s jerseys. If that was going to happen, I think we would have heard about it by now.

    As for 2025, I can tell you that the NFL uniform policy is teams need to wait a minimum of five years before making uniform changes, which means the Patriots will be eligible to do so after this upcoming season. Whether or not they do remains to be seen, but at the very least they could make a tweak now that they have more flexibility after the NFL lifted the ‘one shell rule.’

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    Based on what we saw this spring, it doesn’t seem like the Patriots are all in on having Bailey Zappe on the roster in 2024. As practices went on he got fewer and fewer reps as the team ramped up season preparation.

    That being said, Joe Milton had even fewer reps. It’s possible neither player makes the team, although given the new quarterback roster rules carrying a third QB does make sense. To me, if Milton can prove he’s worth keeping around solely based on upside he’ll get that spot. If not, I could see the Patriots going out and finding this year’s version of Will Grier or Nathan Rourke.

  • Do JuJu Smith-Schuster or Tyquan Thornton count as surprise cuts at this point? It’s just very tough to see how one or both make the team (pending injuries). There are already four roster locks at the position in Kendrick BourneDeMario DouglasJa’Lynn Polk, and Javon BakerK.J. Osborn also feels close to a lock because of his contract.

    So, we’re already five wide receivers in. Six is a lot, and the team may be looking for more out of that role than a rotational player. Enter Jalen Reagor, who brings speed on offense and can play in the kicking game. Thornton had limited special teams work this spring, while Smith-Schuster had almost none in the open practices. Although Smith-Schuster has a dead cap number of near $10 million and Thornton is a recent top-50 pick, both feel like they may be on the outside looking in.

  • Aaron Milton on X (formerly Twitter): "How many OT's should the Patriots be targeting from the UFL? Why not bring in more competition from guys who've had in game reps for the last few months? / X"

    How many OT's should the Patriots be targeting from the UFL? Why not bring in more competition from guys who've had in game reps for the last few months?

    The Patriots could certainly look at UFL tackles, but the problem is there aren’t enough good tackles to fill the 64 starting spots in the NFL, never mind another league. It’s a full-blown tackle shortage, and the Patriots aren’t alone in needing to stock up at the position. More competition is always good, but there also needs to be a balance of having enough reps available to get the guys who will play this season ready. Adding a guy who amounts to another camp body at tackle may not be as useful at this point as getting guys like Chuks OkoraforCaedan Wallace, and Calvin Anderson extra reps.

  • Doug on X (formerly Twitter): "When would be the right time for the Patriots to trade Drake Maye?I'm sure they could still get a future 1st for him right now. / X"

    When would be the right time for the Patriots to trade Drake Maye?I'm sure they could still get a future 1st for him right now.

    The Firstname Bunchofnumbers community checking in, I see.

  • You’re in luck, I did one last week! You can find it here.

  • Jack Dawson on X (formerly Twitter): "What are your thoughts on Jake Andrews? Seems like a waste of a pick. Will he make the roster ? / X"

    What are your thoughts on Jake Andrews? Seems like a waste of a pick. Will he make the roster ?

    I’m expecting Jake Andrews to make the roster (I had him on my last roster projection) but his role is up in the air. Right now he’s the most logical fit to step in as the next starting center, and with David Andrews seemingly year-to-year at this point it’s good to have a guy with that makeup on the team. That being said it would help if he can start playing to develop, and right now those snaps would most likely come at guard. It’ll be worth watching in camp if he can earn some snaps there in what appears to be a wide open competition.

  • Behind Rhamondre StevensonAntonio Gibson is a really strong option as a spell back. The two have similar skillsets so the Patriots should be able to run the same looks with each on the field – limiting potential tells in their play-calling. It’s after Gibson though that the Patriots could look to find some external help. Much like last year expect the competition to be in-house at first (this year that will be between Kevin HarrisJaMycal HastyDeshaun Fenwick, and Terrell Jennings) and then for the team to look externally if none of those players emerge as legitimate options as a third running back.

  • I think it’s situation-dependent. For teams that are starting the roster-building process (especially with a young quarterback) and have plenty of cap space, it may make sense to pay a veteran running back the offense can lean on. However, once a team starts building up its roster, the hit rate on running backs in the draft makes it easy to replace players at the position for a fraction of the cost. For where the Patriots are now, paying Stevenson makes sense (especially since he’ll likely be outside the top-10 highest paid running backs in the league once his extension kicks in next season). In three or four years – assuming they hit on Drake Maye and other draft picks – it will be a different story.

  • 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 [email protected].

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