Now that Super Bowl 53 is in the books, which Patriots players should the team try and retain, and which should be allowed to leave in free agency or trades?
The New England Patriots enjoyed an impressive – if not altogether expected or entertaining – triumph over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. A game many had pegged as a likely shootout to the finish was anything but; instead, fans were “treated” to a low-scoring defensive slugfest between two teams that couldn’t get anything substantial going on offense for most of an hour.
In the end, Patriots fans will take it for what it is: a sixth Super Bowl championship, which ties the franchise with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most all-time in NFL history. Particularly from a defensive and strategic standpoint, New England’s win will probably be studied for years to come by generations of aspiring football coaches, players, and students of the game.
Already though, the tides are changing. A full week hasn’t even passed since the final whistle sounded and the red, white, and blue confetti started to fall, and yet the team has still seen monumental changes.
One of the primary architects of the Patriots’ victory, defensive play-caller Brian Flores, has jumped ship to become the new head coach of the division rival Miami Dolphins. His likely replacement, Greg Schiano, is supposedly going to be announced any day now.
Changes will also come swiftly to the team’s player personnel before long. Whether through trades, releases, or free agency departures, it’s a sure bet that this roster will look very different in no time. If history has taught us anything, it’s that the only downside to winning an NFL championship is seeing the other 31 teams pilfer your talent immediately afterwards.
So which players should the Patriots focus on retaining, and which can they survive without?