For the first time in two decades (yup, 20 full years), the New England Patriots are no longer the bullies of the NFL that everyone else fears.
With Tom Brady now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and the future looking extremely uncertain, Bill Belichick will be forced to build his entire team up through either free agency or the incredibly deep 2020 NFL Draft class. However, New England only has around $3 million in cap space this year, which could force them to get rid of a few contributors from last year to stay flexible financially. Let's also not forget the Pats have 12 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, so some room will have to be made for those incoming players.
3. Part Ways With Mohamed Sanu
The Sanu trade looks worse with each passing day, as he managed just 207 yards in eight games as a Patriot, with most of those coming in one game against the Ravens. To make matters worse, only six Patriots on the entire team carry a bigger cap hit than Sanu's $6.5 million in 2020. Even though the team is thin at wide receiver, New England is nothing if not financially astute, and they could part ways with Sanu provided Bill Belichick is willing to take the L and accept the Atlanta Falcons fleeced him for a second-round pick.
2. Cut Patrick Chung
Chung's one-year sabbatical with the Eagles in 2013 proved to everyone that he's clearly more effective as a versatile, moveable chess piece in Belichick's secondary than staying stuck in Cover 2 all game long like he was in Philadelphia. While he has been a major contributor to some championship teams, his body is starting to fail him, and his 51 tackles last year prove that injuries are starting to take their toll on him. With a $6 million cap hit and plenty of studs in the secondary to make up for his loss, cutting Chung is a sensible cost-saving move for Belichick.
1. Trade Joe Thuney
The Patriots hit the former North Carolina State guard with franchise tag after he established himself as one of the best pass and run blocking guards in the league thanks to Dante Scarnecchia's tutelage. However, Thuney is now earning a cool $14 million thanks to the tag, and that number is superseded only by Stephon Gilmore on New England's roster. The Patriots want to keep Thuney around to maintain a stalwart offensive line, but getting off the hook for Thuney's contract could help them add key pieces elsewhere on the depleted roster.