The Patriots could be set up for one of the most turbulent offseasons in recent memory

  • The New England Patriots may be set up for one of the most turbulent offseasons in recent memory.
  • The Patriots are expected to lose their offensive and defensive coordinators to other teams, meaning they will need to fill two huge vacancies.
  • They also need to rebuild a defense that was one of the worst in the league while there is also speculation about Rob Gronkowski's future.
  • We're also still waiting to see the effects of a reported rift between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.


The New England Patriots' Super Bowl loss immediately catapulted them into an offseason full of the unknown.

The Patriots have been the NFL's most stable franchise over the past two decades, but this season, the cracks began to show.

It remains unknown how much of ESPN's bombshell story on the growing rift between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is playing out — they certainly seemed to function well enough in coming one touchdown short of a sixth Super Bowl — but there have been hints that there is indeed work to be done.

Team owner Robert Kraft has vaguely referred to the need for each side to put egos aside and mentioned "tension" in the building. It's possible that that could grow this offseason, as Brady turns 41, and Belichick at least explores drafting a backup quarterback to be Brady's successor.

21 PHOTOS
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick through the years
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick through the years
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 18: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick holds a sideline meeting with quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe during the fourth quarter of Saturday's NFL preseason game with the Carolina Panthers played in Charlotte. (Photo by John Bohn/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick (R) after their win over the St. Louis Rams 03 February, 2002 in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Patriots defeated the Rams 20-17 for the NFL championship. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick and the coaching staff give frantic last second instructions to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the final drive of the game vs. the Chicago Bears 11/10/2002. Brady went on to throw a 20 yd. touchdown pass to wide receiver David Patten to beat the Bears 33-30.� Don Lansu. (Photo by Don Lansu/Getty Images)
NFL Football - New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady against Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Championship at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Penn., on Jan. 25, 2005. Patriots won 41-27. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, UNITED STATES: Head coach Bill Belichick (L) of the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady (R) talk 06 February 2005 after winning the Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 to win their second straight Super Bowl and third in four years. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick celebrate after 24-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers in AFC Divisional Playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif. on Sunday, January 14, 2007. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH - OCTOBER 20: During the Patriots practice on the practice field at Gillette Stadium, coach Bill Belichick (left) talks with Tom Brady. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots' coach Bill Belichick hugs Tom Brady (#12) after winning the game against Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick applauded New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (#12) after Brady's touchdown pass to New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (#85) in the fourth quarter as the Patriots took on the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots confers with Tom Brady #12 during a time out in the 2nd half in a game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 07: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hits a tee shot on the 13th hole as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 7, 2014 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 14: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick share a moment as the final seconds tick off the clock in their victory, which gave them their 6th straight AFC East title. The New England Patriots hosted the Miami Dolphins in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12, team owner Robert Kraft, and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots celebrate with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws the first pitch before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on from left at Fenway Park on April 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 25: With only three days off between games, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (rear) and head coach Bill Belichick (front) will have very little time to get ready for Thursday night's game against the Dolphins. Here they are pictured on the sidelines during Sunday's game against the New York Jets in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts with head coach Bill Belichick during the fourth quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 30: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 stand onstage during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady #12 and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots celebrate a 34-28 overtime win against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 7: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady raises a Lombardi Trophy during the rally in City Hall Plaza following the Patriots Super Bowl LI Victory Parade in Boston on Feb. 7, 2017. Head coach Bill Belichick is behind him. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 31: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 chat before a preseason game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Past reports have indicated that Brady does not always take kindly to quarterbacks who could be his replacement. ESPN's Ian O'Connor said Brady is aware that he cannot retire this offseason after the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo. Brady has not said he planned on retiring, but at the very least, he knows he has to stick it out longer while the Patriots look for an eventual replacement.

There are other more tangible issues at hand. The Patriots are expected to lose offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Indianapolis Colts and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions as both take stabs at head coaching. That means Belichick and company will either have to promote from within or hire from the outside to fill two huge vacancies.

On the player personnel side, it seems that the entire defense needs to be overhauled after the Patriots gave up 41 points to the Eagles. Though the Patriots slowly created the appearance of being a good defensive team — they allowed very few points per game — advanced stats like defensive DVOA ranked them 31st in defense when the season concluded.

The Patriots appear to need help at every position, but the top priority may be at cornerback after they appeared to push Malcolm Butler out the door in the Super Bowl. Butler, who came up with the Super Bowl-sealing interception against the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, and who played the most defensive snaps of any Patriot player this year, did not play a single defensive snap in the Super Bowl on Sunday. He said afterward that he wasn't sure why he didn't play, saying the team "gave up" on him.

20 PHOTOS
Malcolm Butler through the years
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Malcolm Butler through the years
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 02: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts alongside Malcolm Butler #21 and Akeem Ayers #54 after defeating the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Jermaine Kearse #15 of the Seattle Seahawks and Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots stretch to catch the ball in the third quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots makes an interception against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots waves to fans during a Super Bowl victory parade on February 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 4: Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots and owner Robert Kraft attend the game between the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets on February 4, 2015 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 07: Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots arrives at Chateau Nightclub and Rooftop at Paris Las Vegas on February 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mindy Small/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Malcolm Butler and Julian Edelman poses at the The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
FOXBOROUGH , MA - JUNE 11: New England Patriots player Malcolm Butler at pre-season practice at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots breaks up a pass intended for Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots reacts against the New York Giants during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 20: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler at Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 20, 2016. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 25: Malcolm Butler, left, and Dion Lewis of the New England Patriots watch the game between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks during the third quarter at TD Garden on February 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 20: New England Patriots Malcolm Butler runs off the field after they defeated San Francisco 49ers 30-17. The San Fransisco 49ers host the New England Patriots at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Nov. 20, 2016. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 24: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) recovers a fumble during the first quarter of the National Football League game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets on December 24, 2016, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 30: New England Patriots corner back Malcolm Butler (21) signs autographs during New England Patriots training camp on July 30, 2017, at the Patriots Practice Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11: NFL Cornerback Malcolm Butler attends the ESPN Magazin Body Issue pre-ESPYS party at Avalon Hollywood on July 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 05: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) before the NFL game between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 5, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29: Malcolm Butler #21 and Duron Harmon #30 of the New England Patriots defend a pass from Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the third quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots reacts in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 25: New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) at Patriots practice in Foxborough, MA on Jan. 25, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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There's also the question of Rob Gronkowski's future. After the Super Bowl, Gronkowski said he would weigh his NFL future in the offseason, not ruling out retirement. Gronkowski could very well decide to return, but in the meantime, the Patriots have to at least consider the idea that their best offensive weapon could call it a career.

The Patriots have been masters at re-tooling on the fly — something that's made easier when you already have a franchise quarterback in tow. Brady isn't going anywhere, and there's no reason to believe the Patriots will experience any dramatic fall-off.

But this offseason could be one that brings more change than usual to the Patriots. The effects of a rift between their coach and quarterback remains to be seen, but they have a defense that needs to be rebuilt while Belichick looks for his top assistants on the coaching staff. It may be a busier offseason than usual in Foxborough.

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