The New England Patriots have had another busy offseason. Has any team in the AFC East done enough to challenge them in the AFC East next season?
The New England Patriots have had a busy offseason as they have shuffled players in and out via trades and free agency. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, defensive tackle Alan Branch, and safety Duron Harmon are all back to give the Patriots a strong core at all three levels right up the middle of the defense.
The losses of defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long and cornerback Logan Ryan may have weakened the depth in the secondary and on the edge, but the additions of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive end Kony Ealy and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy have made the Patriots younger and quicker on defense.
On offense, the Patriots have added running back Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati in free agency while trading for big play wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Another trade netted tight end Dwayne Allen from Indianapolis to replace Martellus Bennett. Running back LeGarrette Blount is still on the market and may yet return.
With two Super Bowl victories in three years and 14 of the last 16 AFC East titles (including eight consecutive), the Patriots remain the cream of their division. However, the Miami Dolphins (a playoff team last year), the New York Jets (double-digit victories in 2015), and the Buffalo Bills (in the playoff hunt the past three seasons) have not sat quietly.
But have they done enough to end the New England Patriots’ stranglehold on the AFC East? Can they end the eight year run of consecutive AFC East championships? Is there a legitimate contender to he Patriots in the AFC East this season.
Let’s check-in on the competition in the AFC East and catch-up with what each team has done to try and catch the Patriots in 2017.