How will Pats’ Free Agency approach tie into the Draft?

In your opinion, where is there more value: a true number one wide receiver or a true game changing edge rusher? I ask that because I am torn between the importance of having a true shut down corner if you have an edge rusher who speeds the timing up of the opposing QB and doesnt make it as necessary for DBs to cover as long versus a guy who can take over a game as a receiving threat and move the chains and put points on the board. A long-winded way of saying EDGE or WR 1?Hugh Sager

It’s a worthwhile debate and it’s easy to make arguments for both sides. A WR1 changes the way an entire defense has to play you, but his direct impact can be limited. A true EDGE1 changes the way an offense must protect but extra attention can take him out of the game as well. I think the answer you get depended heavily on who was on the mailbag and this week it’s me so I’m going to go with EDGE1. The quarterback should be “the guy” on offense, and you need one of those for the defense as well, often a versatile edge defender who gets moved around the defensive front to expose matchups. Disrupting the quarterback is everything these days and if you have someone who can do that, you’re going to be able to make the big plays that close out games. -Mike Dussault

I’m probably expressing frustration more than asking a question here, but honestly I’m tired of hearing “be patient with Bill”. I consistently read where we should be patient as making no moves is the way Bill has always done it. Yes, that may be true, but that was when we had Brady. Having Brady and pretty much anybody at receiver made us a playoff team. Yes, Mac looked “good” last year. But he did not seem to elevate the people around him. Yes, I know he was a rookie, but the loss of McDaniel and the thinking that Judge is the “offensive guy” does NOT give me hope for the future with Mac. In my mind, he is likely to regress, particularly with a MUCH weaker O-Line and no improvement in the receiving corps which was only decent at best. We don’t have a great position in the draft, and with the exception of last year, we haven’t done well in the draft on offense very often. When I look at the Bills who got a lot better on top of owning us last year, the Chargers, Raiders, Broncos, Ravens, etc who all get a lot better and then look at the Pats who at best treaded water on a good team that wore out down the stretch and had no answers for elite offenses I can’t accept “be patient”. So my question, specifically, is what do you point to that should make me think we can defeat the Bills, Chiefs, Broncos, Raiders, Chargers, and even the Dolphins? I’m not seeing it. Thanks.Vince Tumminello

Why is all the optimism reserved for everyone else, where apparently every big-name addition will absolutely be a slam dunk across the league, while everyone on the Patriots will certainly regress? The truth is somewhere in the middle, some of last year’s young Patriots will improve and some of those huge signings won’t quite work out like everyone assumes they will. So, it took a 7-9 Cam Newton pandemic season, a 10-7 trip to the playoffs with a rookie and an unsatisfactory free agency start for you to lose all faith in Bill Belichick’s coaching philosophy? Are we to believe the post-Brady mode of team building should now be to just start collecting every big-name free agent that they can? I’m staying the course here in late-March. I believe the Patriots sustained success for 20 years not solely because of Brady, despite what a huge part of it as he was. They were competitive in 2008, 2020 and 2021 and I expect they’ll continue to be competitive going forward by staying true to what they believe. They were measured, opportunistic and, most importantly, they hit on critical needs in the draft when they needed to. Burning draft picks for stars is the hot trend right now, maybe teams will sustain success with that method, but I have my doubts when their depth is tested and they’ve got no more high picks to give.

I respect that the Patriots are staying true to what they believed before Tom Brady, during Tom Brady and now after Tom Brady. I also just don’t think the most direct route to taking the 2021 Patriots back to championship level was to throw everything at the wall in ’22 Free Agency. It needs to be driven by the next generation of Patriots, starting with Mac and last year’s class, and then carrying that over to this year’s class. They need continuity and development, not more overpays on the open market. They have enough draft capital and their finances are such that they can continue to be opportunistic without being hamstrung. Hit on another two or three rookies this spring, allow for some development of their young players and you just might be surprised that you end up with a promising young football team with all the resources they need to get to the next level and stay there for another extended period of time. -Mike Dussault