Patriots: Will free agents avoid New England without Tom Brady?

Could not having Tom Brady anymore impact the Patriots’ ability to sign marquee free agents?

According to reports, the New England Patriots are preparing to be uncharacteristically aggressive this offseason as it pertains to bolstering their roster, which needs to be renovated after it was directly responsible for them enduring their worst campaign since 2001.

Luckily for the Patriots, their lack of spending last offseason has them in pole position to be big time spenders this time around. Based on the latest projections, they’re slated to have the fifth-most salary cap space ($58.66 million) in the league.

Taking that into consideration, you would think that the Patriots would be able to make at least three or four marquee additions, right? Not exactly. As we’ve seen in the past, brandishing a surplus of cash doesn’t always translate to dominating the free agent market, especially when said team doesn’t have the requisite cornerstone pieces to build around.

It also doesn’t help that face of the franchise Tom Brady willingly left last offseason in pursuit of greener pastures, and it might be time to start pondering if his departure will have a lasting impact on the Patriots’ standing as a free agent destination.

These are eye-opening comments from Danny Amendola, who won two rings over his five-year tenure in Foxborough. Regardless of where you stand on who was more essential to the Patriots’ dynasty, they really make you wonder if other players feel this way about Bill Belichick and talk about him like this behind his back.

If there was one thing you could guarantee during the Brady era — other than a division title, a double-digit win campaign and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, of course — it was highly sought-after free agents turning down lucrative offers from other teams in the name of taking a discount to join New England and compete for a championship.

Look no further than what transpired after Brady made up his mind about leaving. The Patriots endured a mass exodus on the free agent front, the most notable of whom were edge-rushing duo Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, as well as center Ted Karras and run stuffer Danny Shelton, who quietly logged a 72.3 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus last season.

Who’s to say the same thing couldn’t happen to players who the Patriots aggressively pursue this offseason? Would they take an extra year’s worth of salary to maybe sneak into the playoffs or sign a one or two-year deal with a clear-cut Super Bowl contender? Before Brady left, posing such a question would be preposterous.

Now, it might just be the new reality in Foxborough. We know it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison since they play the same position, but look no further than Matthew Stafford’s reported keenness to accept a trade to anywhere but the Patriots. That might’ve been the ultimate indicator of what’s to come this offseason.