Here is the final post-mortem for the 2017 NFL season, just as things are ramping up to the 2018 NFL Draft. No team went into the 2017 season with higher expectations than the New England Patriots. They went 14-2 through the season, then manhandled both the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers before staging the greatest come from behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl history. The championship ring had the most diamonds ever, 283 to represent the 28-3 third quarter score that they were down to before coming back to win. Arguably their biggest off-season move was to trade for Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints. Even with a 40-year-old Tom Brady at the helm, the team was expected to repeat.
Any fear that Brady was slipping as he got older didn't seem to affect the Patriots. They traded away back-up quarterback Jacoby Brissett early on to the Indianapolis Colts for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Later in the year they would trade away back-up Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers and picked up Brian Hoyer who the 49ers cut. In other words, they still see Brady as their quarterback of the future. The team went 13-3, winning their division yet again and taking out the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars on their way to another Super Bowl… but the end results weren't what they wanted. Led by back-up quarterback Nick Foles, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Patriots 41-33. The played about as well as could be hoped — except for the loss at the end.
At some point the team will have to address the fact that Brady will be 41 when the new season starts. Hoyer has proven he's a back-up at best. They have to think about what happens when Brady calls it quits. They seem to already be thinking of what happens when Bill Belichick calls it quits, as they convinced offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to turn down the Colts head coaching job after it seemed like he was a lock to stay with the Patriots. Brady and Belichick have been connected for years, and it would seem fitting if they both called it a career at the same time. It's likely the team would be given to McDaniels — it seems time for him to find his quarterback. But there are other concerns on this team, like figuring out exactly what superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski is doing and how to keep him healthy. Also the team had needs at left tackle and linebacker.
There are also reports of some tension on the team between Brady and Belichick having to do with Brady's trainer overstepping his place and there is the unresolved reasons why former Super Bowl star Malcolm Butler was benched for the big game this time around. Butler wants answers as he moves on to a new team… but Belichick isn't talking.