When Tom Brady left the Patriots in 2020, the Patriots had a chance to go to the bottom of the league and find the next franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. Instead, the Patriots signed Cam Newton and went a miserable and unenjoyable 7-9, which gave them the 15th pick in the draft. The Patriots ended up with Mac Jones, and they now have zero playoff wins. On the other hand, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who won the Lawrence sweepstakes, have won a playoff game and are one of the sneaky AFC contenders heading into this season.
This ultimately begs the question: what if the Patriots tanked for Lawrence?
Looking back at the 2020 season, it is hard to imagine a world where the Patriots would have tanked following the departure of Brady. Even though some signs pointed to the idea that it should happen with veteran players sitting out due to COVID and Julian Edelman having a season-ending injury, Bill Belichick had too much pride to let a tank happen. Belichick was also hungry to compete against Brady and prove that he was the main reason behind the Patriot's Super Bowls.
In hindsight, the decision from Belichick was a costly one as the Patriots still don’t have an answer on whether or not Jones is a franchise quarterback. The Patriots are also under immense pressure to return to their winning ways and the playoffs. If the Patriots had Lawrence, the vibe around the Patriots heading into this season would be completely different.
If the Patriots had Trevor Lawrence, they would not have had a poor finish to the 2021 season, and they would not have been facing the Buffalo Bills in the first round. They could have made the AFC Championship with Lawrence in his rookie season. Also, the impact of Lawrence and the confidence he would have instilled in Belichick would have altered the course of last season. I don’t think Belichick would have brought in Matt Patricia to run the offense if Lawrence was the quarterback.
The other important factor that would have been different with Lawrence is the spending. With Lawrence, Belichick would have taken advantage of his rookie contract and surrounded him with real talent like the Jaguars are currently doing. With a real offense and Lawrence, the Patriots would have been vaulted back into contending status.
Ultimately, it is fair to look back and question why the Patriots did not tank in 2020.