No. 4 - Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, Jr.
The Patriots could save $5 million by releasing this coming offseason. His 2024 cap hit is $7.2 million. After a pretty good 2022 season where Wise had a career-high 7.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss, the 29-year-old not only returned to his norm in 2023 but bypassed that and ended up on the wrong side of bad. He has just 3.5 sacks and a career-low five quarterback hits this season. And Wise is even worse in run defense.
According to PFF, Wise is ranked 104 among edge rushers. That is 11th-worst in the league. Wise will turn 30 next July but is already playing like a 35-year-old. He has spent his entire career with the Patriots and, if released, will probably be picked up by another team., if released, But at this point, he might never be more than a decent rotational edge rusher as long as the team that signs him also has other good pass rushers.
No. 5 - Head coach/General manager Bill Belichick
Every coaching tenure comes to an end eventually. Belichick still gets his players to mostly play hard, but after years of not drafting skill positions very well and getting lucky by taking some guy named Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft and watching him leave because Brady was probably tired of dealing with Belichick, the team is only getting worse.
Plus, what better way to move forward and in a new direction than to make a coaching change (and general manager change) and allow the new coach and GM to make the decisions about what to do with the Patriots' immense amount of 2024 cap space and a high first-round draft pick?
Belichick's teams are always going to be pretty good defensively, but he doesn't know what to do with his offense and relies on familiar faces (Josh McDaniels, Bill O'Brien) to lead that unit. Nothing seems to work without Brady, though. New England's uptick over the last three games is also only hurting the team in the 2024 draft. While Belichick might be kicking to the finish of his Patriots career, that kick is not helping the organization in the long term.