The New England Patriots are in a rebuilding phase heading into the 2020 season. Who is going to be the face of the team now that Tom Brady is gone?
In just one year’s difference, the New England Patriots have flipped entirely upside down and are now attempting to pick up all the pieces that seemed to have scattered all over the place.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the franchise’s overall leaders, have decided their stories in New England are over, and are set to pick back up again in Tampa Bay for another run together this season. Besides Brady and Gronk, there’s a whole scroll list’s length of players who have left the team through free agency, retirement, or trades this offseason too.
The only thing the Patriots have going for them right now is the fact that they still have a handful of franchise pillars still on the roster. Matthew Slater, Julian Edelman, Devin McCourty, and Marcus Cannon have all been on the team for at least 10 years. Dont’a Hightower, the team’s defensive leader, is entering his eighth season with the Patriots.
Needless to say, the team still has most of its leaders intact as they embark on a new era.
With all of that being said, who is now the face of the Patriots in 2020 among the players currently on the roster?
I guess it all starts with the quarterback, right? But as it stands, the Patriots are currently in quarterback limbo in regards to who is going to start between their two incumbents — there’s also a strong chance of the team drafting a rookie for the position with a prime draft pick Thursday or Friday, as well. Jarrett Stidham is next in line for the job, and he could become the new face of this upcoming season for the Pats if he is able to stay consistent and be successful.
Next would be the obvious workhorse and leader, Julian Edelman. Edelman is already the fan favorite and an established leader and veteran on the Patriots.
But as good as Edelman is, a wide receiver is only as good as his quarterback, and as previously mentioned, the Patriots have no idea who is going to be starting for them in Week 1. So the question then becomes, can Edelman be considered to be the face of the team if he becomes less productive on the field?
Now to the defensive side of the ball.
The defense has been built and designed around the skill set and presence of Dont’a Hightower. Hightower is the commander of the defense and after eight years, he has a solid understanding of everyone’s job around him on the field.
He is one of the younger veterans on the team and despite him being soft-spoken, Hightower’s voice has a lot of weight around the locker room and with the coaching staff. Hightower has a strong chance of becoming the new face of this Patriots season and possibly the franchise when you start to consider his longevity and status within the organization.
Building off of that, Devin McCourty could be looked at similarly to Hightower. Entering his 11th season with the team, McCourty has started to become more relevant and outspoken in more ways off the field, and that could be the deciding factor in this discussion.
Devin has started a podcast with his brother and teammate Jason which he has used as his platform to express himself. In doing so, it has increased his social status, thus making him a solid option of becoming the face of the season for the Pats.
Along the same lines as McCourty lies Matthew Slater. Slater has been a team captain for a long time now and is now the longest-tenured player on the team. He always does the right thing and stands up for what he believes in, which is what fans expect to see from their athletes.
Slater embraces everything it is to be a member of the New England Patriots and takes it head-on with great pride. There would be no complaints if he was to be the face of the season. Not to discredit anything from Slater, but it is hard for a special teamer to be the face of a team, though.
N’Keal Harry is also another option to be the new face of the team. Harry was drafted in the first round last year and has given the Patriots a lot of promise in regards to becoming their next franchise wide receiver.
Harry is young, skillfully talented, and is going to be a great weapon this season for whoever is playing quarterback. Given the situation of the team, there’s a strong possibility they push the “youth movement” regarding the face of the team and give that role to Harry.
Also, there is always the option that the Patriots draft a rookie this week who is capable of stepping into that role this season. It seems like the Pats are interested in drafting a quarterback, and who knows, maybe he will be legitimate and become the face of the team.
We don’t know yet. What we do know is that the Patriots are in a rebuilding process.
All in all, I believe it’s not going to be any one player who becomes the face of the franchise in 2020, and I think every game should feature a different player every week for this season. The Patriots are full of leaders and players who have been on their team for a long time.
The fanbase is accustomed to seeing consistency within the roster, and that is one thing that the New England Patriots should still be able to provide to them this season.