The unprecedented spending spree has seen GM Bill Belichick receive what we believe is unfair criticism, as dishing out this much money rarely ever translates to team success.
However, given the state of the roster, which was one of the least talented in the league last season, he really had no other choice.
Fans are clearly most eager to see what the revamped offense looks like under quarterback Cam Newton, who re-signed on a one-year deal. The former MVP now has a cavalcade of weapons to work with, meaning he really has zero excuse not to perform up to his standards.
It’ll be interesting to see how new tight end duo Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry mesh in the Patriots’ offensive system, but you have to think, given how much Newton has enjoyed throwing to tight ends in his career, that both players will flourish.
How much remains to be seen, but former Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch believes they’ll be more prolific than one of the most dynamic TE tandems in league history.
Suffice to say that his comments will get the Foxborough faithful amped for what lies ahead.
Former Patriots star Deion Branch has lofty expectations for new tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
"“In that offense, the tight ends are vital, especially with what Josh (McDaniels) wants to do,” Branch told the Boston Herald. “It was the same with Charlie (Weis) back in his days, and Billy O, and they landed some really good guys. With Aaron and Gronk, every defender was at a disadvantage trying to cover them, so I do like what they did.”“You’re going to see the Patriots go back to that two tight end set, especially with Smith and Henry. This is going to be crazy … and it may be a little better. And I know it’s kind of crazy to say that.”"
It would appear that Branch has been drinking a little too much of the Patriots’ Kool-Aid following their slew of free agent signings, because this is quite the reactionary take.
For starters, Gronkowski is one of the most decorated tight ends in league history, and Hernandez was on his way to becoming one of the NFL’s most feared tight ends (if he wasn’t already) before a murder conviction and subsequent prison sentence flipped his life upside down.
With all due respect to Smith and Henry, they haven’t come close to scratching the surface of what the former star duo accomplished in the league.
That isn’t to say they couldn’t prove to be similarly productive, as both players are smack in the middle of their primes and Belichick clearly thinks highly of them, but Branch could’ve at least waited until they played a few games (or a full season) together before he jumped the gun and likened them to what was once an unstoppable pairing.