Patriots Future: New England has positioned itself to remake franchise in 2021 and beyond

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We all knew that this Patriots offseason, if Tom Brady exited, was going to be one of the weirdest in franchise history. And that hasn't disappointed.

But it's been more curious than we thought.


The parade of one-year contracts that have been handed out.

Since Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater signed two-year extensions, the Patriots' offense has gone like this...

LG Joe Thuney ... franchise tag.
WR Damiere Byrd ... one-year contract.
FB Dan Vitale ... one-year contract.
DE Brandon Copeland ... one-year contract.
QB Brian Hoyer ... one-year contract.
ST Cody Davis ... one-year contract.
DE Shilique Calhoun ... one-year contract.

Of the free agents signed this offseason, only DT Beau Allen and FS Adrian Phillips were given multi-year deals, and they were given just two-year contracts.

That gives the Patriots, right now, a grand total of 30 players under contract for 2021 — and it's a 90-man roster.

Of that, special teams (four players), represents 13.3 percent of the 2021 roster (naturally). There are as many receivers (four) as special teams players.

Of the 30 under contract, half (15 of 30) have never played a full season for the Patriots. Ten (33 percent) have yet to play a full NFL season.

And there are five positions (including two of the three linebacker spots) that don't have any players.

Here's the 2021 depth chart right now:

Of course, with only one-third of the roster filled, the Patriots should have gobs of cap space ... and they do.

According to, the Patriots rank fourth in the league in effective (signing minimum players to reach top 51) cap space at over $96 million.

So what does that mean?