Patriots have one decision they must get right this season

One decision will determine their future more than any other
Washington Commanders v New England Patriots
Washington Commanders v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The New England Patriots have crossed the football equivalent of the Rubicon as they have cut ties with their long-time coach and general manager, Bill Belichick. Some of their decisions have been spot-on since, and others have not. It's been a mixed-bag offseason for the new Executive Vice President of Player Personnel, Eliot Wolf.

Wolf hit a grand slam home run with his first-ever draft choice, top-three quarterback Drake Maye from UNC. It was the correct decision and set everything moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, his prior gaffes in free agency, e.g., failing to land a top No. One wide receiver will hurt. He also neglected to draft an offensive left tackle, a potentially season-threatening omission.

One decision to be made jointly by Wolf and Head Coach Jerod Mayo (he should be the final decisionmaker) will determine if the Patriots have a chance at a winning season. If they fail to make the right decision, the Pats are again headed to the bottom of the AFC East or close. What's this monumental, season-defining 2024 decision?

Starting Drake Maye is the key to potentially a winning season

Eliot Wolf paid handsomely for veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett in free agency. The cost was an exorbitant $8M contract for a backup quarterback, unless the team actually expects him to play. That's the issue and the problem looming over this most important decision of the 2024 season.

Brissett played a year in Foxborough; then, in the next seven years, he bounced around, playing four years in Indianapolis and three other teams since 2020. He can safely be considered a journeyman at this point. They shouldn't command an $8M one-year contract. The top upcoming 2024 decision impacting the entire season revolves around that deal and the presence of Drake Maye.

The chances of winning with Brissett at the helm are slim. Brissett has thrown only 51 career touchdowns to go along with 23 interceptions in his eight-year career. These numbers are not likely to inspire great confidence in Patriot Nation, and rightly so. That's where the season-defining decision lies for Eliot Wolf and Jerod Mayo.

The Patriots need Drake Maye at the helm from Day One

Jacoby Brissett was signed before Drake Maye was drafted. Perhaps he was seen as a stopgap measure if the team deferred drafting a top quarterback and traded down in the draft. They didn't and correctly selected Maye. The key issue now is partly contractual and partly on-field related.

Maye, a first-round pick, is only under a short-money contract for four seasons. After that, his option for lots more cash has to be picked up or not, or if he excels, he can be signed to a more team-friendly contract.

Jacoby Brissett will not lead the Patriots to a 2024 winning, never mind playoff season. This is especially unlikely since the Pats lack a No. One receiver and more importantly a left tackle. The team's sole hope is that rookie Maye steps right in as Tom Brady did in 2001 (OK it was TB12's second season), and leads a previously awful offense, if not to a Super Bowl win, to perhaps a playoff berth as rookie Mac Jones did in 2021.

The bloated contract given to Jakoby Brissett should not deter Wolf and Mayo from sending Maye out from Day One. That's the key. There's a chance the Patriots can catch lightning in a bottle by disregarding the cash implications of that contract and rolling with their young star quarterback.

Managers need to admit mistakes. The key to the dilemma is recognizing them, not lingering on them, and moving on. Trying to justify a bad decision by persevering with it, despite the clear fact that it was unnecessary in light of Maye's being drafted, is a prescription for failure.

Wolf and Mayo should forget the $8M Brissett contract and start rookie Drake Maye Day One. Maye gives the Patriots their best chance to win.

Is there anything else that should matter, like a lousy contract decision that looked OK at the time? No, not at all.

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