Patriots' 3 Biggest Priorities to Start the Offseason

Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37) celebrates
Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37) celebrates / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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This is the most intriguing offseason in recent New England Patriots' memory. The team parted ways with czar Bill Belichick on Jan. 11 after a reign lasting nearly a quarter century, the Patriots hold the third overall pick, their highest selection in over three decades, and New England has nearly $70 million in cap space to spend this offseason.

With former linebacker Jerod Mayo tabbed as the Patriots' 15th head coach, he got to work constructing his staff and brought in some new (and some familiar) faces to restore winning ways in Foxborough. With the influx of some new decision-makers, New England fans are holding their collective breath to see how the offseason will play out.

What will the team do with the third overall pick? Will they pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade? Will the team take advantage of the cap space at their disposal and make some splashes in free agency? What is the team's future at quarterback? Only time will reveal those answers, but they make for some pretty intriguing storylines.

It may be a little drastic to label the Patriots' current situation as a crisis, but New England holds the third-worst record over the last two seasons and has only made the playoffs once in the last four seasons, after a run of 15 playoff appearances in 16 years. They need to stop the bleeding, and they have the opportunity to do just that this offseason.

Coming off of a 4-13 season, there is no shortage of areas where New England needs to improve to get back to being competitive, but here are the Patriots' three biggest offseason priorities as they look to right the ship.

1. Quarterback

It can sound cliche at times, but quarterback is the most important position in sports. Since one franchise quarterback left New England, the Patriots have limped to a 29-38 record. Now, Tom Brady isn't walking through that door (Rick Pitino voice), but the Patriots assuredly need to reset at the position.

New England's quarterback play in 2023 was nothing short of atrocious. Between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, the Patriots ranked 31st in average passer rating (only the New York Jets were worse), 28th in passing yards per game and tied for 30th in interceptions thrown per game. Jones especially had a tough season as he was relieved by Zappe on four separate occasions before Zappe took the reins as the team's starter after Week 12.

Jones, a former first-round pick, doesn't appear to have much of a future in New England in light of recent reports that the Patriots will "most likely" try to trade Jones and that he is a "a trade candidate in the coming weeks and most likely will end up elsewhere for the 2024 season."

Yes, Zappe injected some life in New England's offense and secured half of the team's wins once he took over under center, but he is far from a long term play at the position.

Immediately following his introductory press conference, Jerod Mayo strongly hinted that New England would select a quarterback with the third overall pick. If they hold firm with the third overall pick, the Patriots are essentially guaranteed their pick of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels.

New England could opt for a veteran stop-gap type of quarterback or draft a quarterback later in the draft, but whichever way they get there, no QB on this roster should be starting Week 1.