With the team coming off a down year for the first time in forever, these five players won’t be New England Patriots by Week 1.
Last year, for the first time since 2008, the New England Patriots didn’t make the playoffs. For the first time since 2002, they didn’t win at least 10 games. The last time they finished below .500? 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season as head coach.
The Patriots aggressively went about fixing a moribund group of pass catchers this offseason, signing arguably the top two free agent tight ends (Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith) as well as adding wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
COVID-19 had a major affect on the Patriots last season, from opt-outs (Donta Hightower) to quarterback Cam Newton having his season derailed early by a bout with the virus.
The Patriots have a good roster, so a rebound could very well be coming in 2021 in a far tougher-looking AFC East. But the Buffalo Bills aren’t going away, and the Miami Dolphins are on the rise.
Belichick is not afraid to make cold, calculated roster decisions. On that note, these five players will be gone by Week 1.
5 New England Patriots who will be gone by Week 1
5. Stephon Gilmore, cornerback
Gilmore missed the end of last season with a quad injury, but it’s worth wondering if he could have kept playing if the Patriots had a chance to make the playoffs. He wound up missing a total of five games, with a general drop-off from his 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year campaign.
Entering the final year of his contract, and now on the wrong side of 30, Gilmore has been the subject of trade rumors. He doesn’t seem too concerned about getting a new deal, for what that’s worth.
The Seattle Seahawks and some others could still call New England before Week 1. So though the odds might feel small at this point, Gilmore is hardly more than a coin-flip proposition to still be a Patriot when the season starts.