1. This week begins Phase 3 of the voluntary offseason workout program for the Patriots, which means live work on the field, including 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. With Tom Brady not expected to attend, this means there will be plenty of reps to go around for the other quarterbacks on the roster — Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling and Jarrett Stidham. Obviously, the Patriots know what they have in Hoyer, so it will be a great opportunity to see what they have in the two young quarterbacks, especially Etling following a full season in the organization. It will be hard to make any real judgments on Stidham because of how new the system is to him, but it will be the first chance to see Stidham, the fourth-round pick, in action. No roster decisions will be made based on the spring sessions, but this and training camp is very important for Etling as he looks to prove he deserves a spot on the roster come September. If he exceeds expectations there’s a chance he could kick Hoyer out of a roster spot given the difference in salary, but it seems like a long-shot at best. If Etling doesn’t show much potential and growth from a year ago, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him released at some point between now and Week 1 with Stidham now in the building. With no Brady there will be plenty of reps to go around and the younger quarterbacks will certainly be the focus.
2. The Patriots have made several signings over the last few weeks, including Jamie Collins, Dontrelle Inman, Jared Veldheer and Ben Watson. It’s important to point out all of these were made after the deadline to factor into next year’s compensatory picks, which the Patriots seem to always have in the back of their minds — much more than the average NFL team. They are projected to get two thirds and two sixths in next year’s draft.
3. After years of having so much stability on the coaching staff, this is shaping out to be one of the busier years Bill Belichick has had in recent memory. As of now, it appears the 67-year-old will be calling the defensive plays and will be managing a staff on that side of the ball with only one coach in the same role as a year ago — safeties coach Steve Belichick. Offensively, it’s pretty much the same, but Joe Judge will be coaching both the special teams and wide outs, which Belichick likely will have an interest in of how that’s going, especially at the beginning.
4. Kyle Rudolph’s situation with the Vikings certainly should be monitored by the Patriots. It doesn’t seem like Minnesota wants to keep him around at his over $7 million salary and he’s said he wouldn’t be willing to take a pay cut. Perhaps the Patriots could offer one of their 14 draft picks (including compensatory) in 2020 in exchange for the 29-year-old tight end. There’s still a good amount of question marks at the Patriots' tight end position and the addition of Rudolph would make things a lot better.
5. It’s worth repeating how much the Collins signing makes sense for both sides. First off, there’s not much risk involved for the Patriots as he didn’t get big deal. Either he will be a contributor to the defense, or cut at not much cost. Then for Collins himself, he signed only a one-year deal so a good season with the Patriots could get him the exposure he needs to cash in on the open market next offseason. He’s still just 29 years old.
6. While the Jets firing general manager Mike Maccagnan this week shows how dysfunctional the organization is, on the field the team may be the Patriots’ biggest challenger in the AFC East this coming season. Sam Darnold was very impressive last year and there are some other talented players on the roster. Also, Adam Gase is a very underrated head coach. Even with all the issues in the front office, don’t be surprised to see the Jets have a decent season in 2019.
7. As mentioned, OTAs begin this week with sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thursday’s session is one of two open to the media. The other is Monday, June 10, and then the opportunity for the media to see the team on the field this spring is during mandatory minicamp June 4-6. It is worth pointing out Belichick canceled the final two OTA sessions last year, so there’s a chance the only time the media sees the team on the field before training camp is Thursday and June 4-6.