Continuing our occasional series looking at what lies ahead for the Patriots in the post-Tom Brady Era.
I know some of you are still licking your wounds from the Tom Brady departure. For many, especially those that didn't have much of attachment to those pre-Bill Belichick Patriots, that's probably not going to go away for a while. I totally get it, and I'd probably be in the same boat.
But once you get past this stretch, and embrace that 13-3 and AFC Championship appearances aren't just a birthright and the Patriots will likely have to earn them all the hard way from here on out (especially with just one conference bye), this is going to be kind of a fun and cool period in Patriots history.
And it's going to be pressure-packed.
The future of this franchise, for the first time in seemingly forever, is virtually a blank slate — starting with the quarterback spot. It is an unpainted canvas for Belichick and Co. to paint the final chapter of this saga — one that could last for another decade and enhance his legacy even further.
We already went over the 2021 depth chart and the $100 million in cap space they have for next season. We addressed where the crucial holes are, that will need to be addressed in this draft to set the stage for next year.
Well, 2022 bring $165 million in effective cap space and there are 40 roster spots that need filling — there are just 12 players signed for '22.
Of course, there will be extensions handed out in the coming months that will start to paint the picture. There will also be free agents next offseason that will fill in some of the gaps.
But a big piece of the puzzle going forward, if the Patriots want to build a sustainable roster that doesn't run into the cap problems of the past two seasons, will be the draft. A few key pieces, at least, should come later this month (we asked the question whether circumstances could dictate largely punting on this year's draft and focusing on 2021). But the key parts of the 2022 Patriots — and perhaps Dynasty 3.0 (let's call it the Belichick Force Ghost Era) will be coming from the next two drafts.
Let's analyze where the focus is sure to be: