5 Patriots storylines to keep an eye on at NFL Combine

By WEEI 93.7

While it feels like only a few weeks ago the Patriots’ season ended with a wild card loss to the Titans, the first big event of the offseason is here — the NFL Combine.

Executives, coaches, agents, media and the top college prospects in the country will all be in Indianapolis this week with the main attraction being the players working out at Lucas Oil Stadium, but there will be plenty of other things going on. Those things include interviews, medical check-ups, agents gauging the market for their players and this year discussions on a new CBA.

As is always the case, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to the Patriots, so here are five storylines to monitor over the course of the week.

1. Tom Brady rumors

With the entire NFL community in one place for the week, and the greatest quarterback in NFL history set to become a free agent for the first time in his career, his name is going to come up in almost every conversation that is had. Some of these conversations will include executives and agents and it’s likely some of them will be leaked to the media. This is also the time where through back channels agents get a good sense of what their clients market will be like when free agency hits in a few weeks. Do not be surprised to learn of a few more teams who will be interested in the 42-year-old, and also potentially how much money he could be offered.

2. Connections to prospects

Everyone is in Indianapolis to get to know the players who will be drafted in April’s draft. The most important part of the trip is the medical evaluations for all of the players, and also the interviews that take place. Teams are allowed 45 18-minute formal interviews with prospects (down from 60), although teams informally speak with almost everyone. Keep this in mind when you see reports of X prospect speaking with X team. While these reports don’t really mean much, it is worth noting a few years ago Sony Michel mentioned he had a good first meeting with the Patriots and then look what happened. The combine is the first real opportunity for teams to get meet 1-on-1 with the players who will be drafted next month.

3. Finalizing coaching staff

With the Patriots having another offseason of turnover on the coaching staff, some new roles could be learned about this week. What will Jedd Fisch’s official title be? Who will replace Joe Judge as wide receivers coach? Who will replace Dante Scarnecchia? It is worth noting Scarnecchia will be in Indy likely serving as a consultant. He did this when he retired for the first time a few years ago. Internal candidates to replace him are Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo. Typically, some coaching news comes out this week.

4. Free agent rumors

Brady isn’t the only big free agent the Patriots have. They have a few on the defensive side of the ball including, Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. Some information on their futures could be learned. Also, the Patriots likely will be very active on the free agent market at certain positions, especially tight end and wide receiver. What will Austin Hooper’s market be like? Questions like that could be answered and help the Patriots determine whether they will be in or out on certain players.

5. New CBA

Following the owners’ new CBA proposal last week, the NFLPA and the NFL are scheduled to meet Tuesday. If the two sides are close, perhaps some negotiations will be had and by the end of the week there could be a new CBA in place. One of the biggest things on the table is a new postseason structure where an additional team in each conference would make it, and also the potential for a 17th game.