BOSTON (CBS) — The loss of Dont’a Hightower certainly created plenty of short-term concerns for the Patriots this season. But it also raised some bigger, more important questions about the long-term future of the team. Where will the roster be in a few years’ time?
The Patriots’ murky future outlook was the lead topic for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand on Friday, as they wonder whether the roster is in the early stages of a sharp downturn and New England could see some significant roster turnover from top-to-bottom in the coming years.
Marc Bertrand looks at the potential loss of cornerback Malcolm Butler and imminent decline of Hightower, plus with some other question marks among the remaining players, and sees a future that is uncertain at best and bleak at worst.
“So if Butler’s gone and Hightower’s in decline and Gilmore is the No.1 corner and they’re thin at linebacker, and you look up front and you look at the guys up front … so who’s your best defensive player? McCourty?” asked Bertrand. “So your best defensive player is a safety in his 30s? Does that make you feel good?”
Scott Zolak doesn’t think the future looks so bad when you look at the defensive line. Trey Flowers continues to play well and Malcom Brown is taking a step forward in 2017, while rookies Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers could be promising talents. But he sees potential issues down the road on the other side of the ball – and that’s why the next year or two could be “Super Bowl or Bust” like never before in the Belichick-Brady era.
“Look at your offense,” said Zolak. “Look at Nate Solder’s term. Look at Julian Edelman. We talked about this with [Rob] Gronkowski when the deal got done, how many [good years] does he have left? The quarterback is 40! They’re in it to win it now.”
The Patriots still boast plenty of talent on both sides of the ball and figure to contend for the Super Bowl as long as Tom Brady is playing the way he is. But as Bertrand noted, it may be fair to assess them right now as a team that’s “not built for the future.”
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