New England Patriots

New England Patriots

L-R: OL D.J. Fluker, WR DeAndre Hopkins, RB Dalvin Cook (USA Today Network)

Last week, the Patriots wrapped up their 2023 spring practices. That usually ushers in the ‘dead spot’ in the NFL offseason.

This year though, there’s still plenty going on for the Patriots. The DeAndre Hopkins saga still looms, Jack Jones’ arrest could re-shape the Patriots’ secondary, and cuts around the league have led to the external revisiting of the depth at other positions as well.

Given all of that, you guys have ready with plenty of questions about potential late-offseason moves. Let’s dive right in with this week’s mailbag…

  • Honestly, no. What the Patriots have right now is a group of four solid complementary receivers in JuJu Smith-SchusterKendrick BourneDeVante Parker, and Tyquan Thornton (based on potential). In order for the Patriots to truly improve their receiver room they can’t simply add another player who is going to stretch that rotation – they have plenty of guys who can take snaps in that role. What they really need a definitive No. 1 to create more favorable matchups for the players listed above (which Hopkins would do).

    At this point, the only two wideouts fitting that description who seemed even somewhat available besides Hopkins were Mike Evans in Tampa and Jerry Jeudy in Denver. However, Evans is reportedly working on a contract extension with the Bucs while the Broncos seem ready to move forward with Jeudy and make things work with Russell Wilson.

  • It’s really hard to say, based off of what we said this spring. Both tackle spots seem to remain up for grabs.

    I think if the Patriots had to play a game today, the line would be – from left tackle to right tackle – Trent BrownCole StrangeDavid AndrewsMichael Onwenu, and Conor McDermott – with the acknowledgement that there’s still plenty of time for things to change in camp.

    I have McDermott winning out at right tackle with Riley Reiff as the swing tackle as a backup in both spots. Honestly, right tackle is the toughest position to project. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots consider moving Onwenu out there again after keeping him at guard all of last year. Rookie Atonio Mafi‘s performance at right guard could be key in making that happen. The team would need to be confident in Onwenu’s replacement if they’re going to move him to tackle – especially in a contract year. They could also bring in more help at right tackle – they worked out veteran D.J. Fluker last week.

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  • What defines the money being ‘right’? If he’ll come for at or near the veteran minimum? Sure. You can never have too many good players on your team. That being said, the Patriots running back depth is pretty comfortable right now. They can probably only make one significant contract happen between now and training camp, and that should be reserved for Hopkins, who would help them much more.

  • Prediction time! I’ll say the ‘best’ team the Patriots will beat this year is the Bills (project as the third-toughest team on their schedule right now, behind the Chiefs and Eagles).

    As for the worst team they’ll lose to? That Saints game in Week 5 feels kind of ‘trappy’ as the lone home game in a four-week stretch against a team that could be in the running for a top-five pick – especially if Derek Carr doesn’t bounce back in a new setting. The Saints gave the Patriots trouble last time they played too.


  • There’s absolutely a chance of this happening. Last year at Alabama, Bill O’Brien built his entire offense around running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who ended up leading the team in both rushing and receiving. If that trend follows him to New England, Stevenson should have plenty of chances to put up monster numbers.

    Would that be the best thing for the Patriots’ offense overall? Probably not. But it doesn’t feel unrealistic either, especially if Mac Jones struggles early in the season.

  • I’m going to go with Logan Mankins. He had a good case this year on the ballot with Mike Vrabel, and it feels like he could get over the hump next year.

  • As I said in my spring practice takeaways last week, it feels like special team coverage player Jourdan Heilig has the best chance. He’s been getting plenty of one-on-one time working with Matthew Slater, which in the past has been a sign that the team views a player as rosterable. Malik Cunningham and Johnny Lumpkin may still contribute over the course of the season, but when it comes to the Week 1 roster I’m going with Heilig.

  • I hate to give a cop-out answer here, but ask me again after the season. If things go well with the new offensive setup and Mac Jones proves to be the long-term answer at quarterback, the Patriots will have to find a way to build a new core around him while also giving him a second contract. However, if Jones isn’t the guy and they have to hit the full reset button, they certainly have future flexibility.

  • If/when the Patriots have to play games without Jack Jones, it feels like Jonathan Jones will become the second primary boundary cornerback. After him, the depth gets thin. Jalen Mills would be the next player after him in that role, with the depth chart dropping off pretty significantly after that.

    If Jonathan Jones moves to the outside, that opens up snaps in the slot. Most of those will probably go to Marcus Jones, but Myles Bryant would be the backup slot cornerback in that scenario. While we saw him playing more safety (a position better suited to his skillset) this spring, losing Jack Jones could have a domino effect that moves him back to corner.

  • 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

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