"So what are you doing now?"
It's a question I, and probably many other NFL beat writers, often asked for the Super Bowl. It's pretty simple. We are still working, but with a somewhat reduced schedule. (And it's pretty easy after working about 192 hours straight during the Super Bowl week.)
There is still some warming to do after the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl LIII, so we are immediately on the offseason. NFL Scouting Combine, free agency, draft and offseason training will be here before you know it. The only real break we get is from mid-June to late July when, without any arrests, the NFL news cycle is really dead.
Think of this week's letter bag a primer for the Patriots offseason.
What free funds do they keep and what do they let go?
Here is the complete list of patriots of unlimited free agents:
P Ryan Allen
DT Malcom Brown
LT Trent Brown
WR Phillip Dorsett
DE Trey Flowers
K Stephen Gostkowski
RB Jeremy Hill
WR Chris Hogan
] WR Chris Hogan] LB Ramon Humber
OT Ulrick John
LB Albert McClellan
CB Jason McCourty
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
CB Eric Rowe
OL Brian Schwenke
OT LaAdrian Waddle
It's a tough list. I'm sure the patriots want almost everyone back, but guys like Trent Brown, Trey Flowers and Gostkowski can break the bank. Broad receiver contracts are so absurd, it is difficult to predict what Dorsett, Patterson and Hogan will do in the open market.
If the patriots are re-signing Jason McCourty may be due to Devin McCourty, his $ 13,355 million hit here and whether he decides to retire.
What I say is that I'm not an enchant.
The Patriots also have two limited free agents in cornerback Jonathan Jones and broad recipient Josh Gordon.
#MailDoug what is our current hijacking situation and what important free agents should we focus on?
Patriots currently have a little over $ 18 million in cap space, according to the Boston Sports Journal's Miguel Benzan.
By restructuring, extending, trading or releasing, the patriots could also release cap space through contracts for quarterback Tom Brady ($ 15 million), narrow end Rob Gronkowski ($ 9.86 million), security Devin McCourty ($ 9.5 million) finish Dwayne Allen ($ 7.31M), lineback Dont's Hightower ($ 5.945M), RT Marcus Cannon ($ 4.66M) and defensive finish Adrian Clayborn ($ 3.94M).
Therefore, for maybe the first time since I started covering the team in 2013, I finally believe that the patriot's cover is shit. The patriots have so many opportunities to open up their caps. Even though they simply release Dwayne Allen, their cap space goes over $ 25 million. As Brady currently has a $ 27m cap here, the patriots would be very smart to extend him before the free agency.
Number 1 priority for Pats this low season?
– @ wade_wdavis10
Withdraw Flowers. He is by far their best and most important free agent. The patriots' defense never played worse than what did in weeks 2 and 3 when he was out against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions.
Revitalizing flowers are also important because of what and what the patriots have behind them – Clayborn, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis and Ufomba Kamalu. No one in that group can come close to replacing Flowers.
What was the most fun part about covering this year's Pats law? #MailDoug
It was an unusually friendly dressing room, actually.
A few years ago it was not so. It seemed to be a growing contempt for the media, but it has changed in recent years. In fact, I think players like the offensive line man Ted Karras have helped in this regard. He is not afraid to have non-football talks with reporters, and if we act as nice, friendly, decent people to a player, it will rub off on others.
CP, Dorsett and Hogan are all UFAS. What is the chance that everybody comes back to the patriots?
I would probably rank them Patterson, Hogan, Dorsett.
I wouldn't be surprised if a team overpaid Dorsett based on his perceived upside. He did just enough this season to show why he was a first round in 2015.
Patterson is a really nice gadget player for the patriots that I don't think will cost too much on the open market. I am interested in seeing what happens to Hogan. In an ideal world, he would probably sign with either the giants or the giants, because his wife and twins live in New York. He has two rings now. If he is willing to take a little less to play closer to home, this is the smartest move.
What do you think is the plan for Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn?
– @ ChefdDds89
My best guess is Brown's sign elsewhere, Wynn plays left tackle next season and Cannon stops at Right tack.
The second option is the Patriot's cut or change Cannon, Brown stops to the left tackle and Wynn plays on the right side. Brown will probably cost too much money, however, as a 25-year-old starter who can play left or right tackle.
The patriots will pack all the first four pickers in the draft trade for OBJ or Nah? #MailDoug
I don't hate the idea, okay?
If the giants are stupid enough to buy Odell Beckham, then all teams should jump on the chance. His contract is not even so bad when you remove his $ 20M signing bonus. It's five years, $ 70 million, which is just $ 14 million a season.
If Gronk retires, do they see a good look at Irv Smith from Bama?
– @ c_ray26
Although Rob Gronkowski does not retire, the patriots should pull out a tight end high. They spent the first round at Daniel Graham and Ben Watson in 2001 and 2004, a third round at David Thomas in 2006 and a second round at Rob Gronkowski in 2010. Since 2010, they have used fifth, sixth and seventh rounds to pick up tight ends. So, they haven't used a high pick on a tight nine-year end.
It seems like the year is about T.J. Hockenson, Irv Smith, Noah Fant and Kaden Smith all out there with four selections in the first 73 elections.
Let's go fast fire.
#maildoug @DougKyed if two offensive lineman wanted to be number 69 how would they solve this problem?
The answer is always Bill Belichick decides.
Can the Patriots sign an earlier prospect such as bridgewater or be ignored to rejuvenate their career as Brady's backup?
– @ bluebear204
Teddy Bridgewater? Sure. Blake Bortles? The patriots already had Ryan Mallett.
What free agent will the patriots intervene in?
I do not know, but I would not be surprised if they see a good look at broad recipient Adam Humphries.
Just want to remind everyone I was first on this bandwagon.
What are your low season plans, Doug? #maildoug
I plan to take it easy for a while, but then the things back on the NFL Scouting Combine later this month. After that we have free agency, draft and offseason training.
I have a couple of holidays at work, a wedding in March and some Wrestlemania-adjacent events in April, but nothing too crazy.
Is it possible Patriots are trading for Jacoby Brissett in the offseason or signing him as a free agent in 2020?
Patriots like to surprise me, but it would really shock the hell out of me.
Do the patriots see the tires of a QB in the draft until 2019 or stick with the Hoyer / Etling back-up plan for now?
What is the best story from the season you did not make it print #MailDoug
I probably tell you that I take down a wall in a row on Super Bowl, though it may be news viewing from my side.
I was back at my hotel when I got a call that I had to move about a hit I made for TV. It was about 6:45 pm It was a 10 minute walk to the hotel, and my producer, Kelly, had to shoot something down the street from the radio at 7:30 pm. So, I had to wake up.
I came to the congress center, made it down and housed through radrad, which was divided into four different quadrants, and each had about a three meter high wall around it. The door was marked "exit" from the inside, but there was no sign on the outside of the entrance. The doors also closed, so they had a tendency to stick.
I had too much forward jogging to the wall and one of three things happened: 1. The door got stuck, 2. What I thought was a door was not, or 3. I tried to push open a pull door. Whatever I started to fall against the wall, and when I realized what was happening – the wall fell down in front of me – I then tried to keep myself and the wall up. Nor did it happen, and I fell down with the wall. As the wall was divided into parts, it was described as looking like an exploding bridge.
Jori Epstein of the United States Today, as I had met the night before, just happened to pass by when it happened. Adam Hart from NBC Sports Boston also rushed over to help me put the wall back.
So, you know, at least no one saw that it happened.
Overall, I'm pretty sure they replaced the whole wall the next day, I got my TV hit in time and Kelly did it to shoot the second event.
Tuesday night was the media party and I'm pretty sure I told everyone I saw about the wall, because it was better to own it and be openly embarrassed by it instead of letting it not happen. So that's why I tell you.
What was your favorite moment from this year? #maildoug
Josh Gordon's first touchdown with the team or Patrick Chung returns to the side line of the Super Bowl LIII with his broken arm in a loop.
What is a player who is a free agent who you want them to leave from a media perspective? #maildoug
Running back Jeremy Hill or cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe. All three players are big guys.
Why did the patriots not give the official title of DC? Did they know he wasn't ready? Glad he got an hc opportunity but think it is interesting. #maildoug
My guess is his contract that linebacker's coach had not yet ended.
Who is your favorite colleague outside NESN? If it is not @jeffphowe, your answer is invalid. #MailDoug
– @ BostonGaL4Ever
That's Jeff Howe, but he's bound with 10 other people for the first place. We have a good blow.
Thumbnail via Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY Sports images