We knew this day would come: the end of the Bill Belichick era. But the house that Belichick and Tom Brady built isn’t empty. The new era begins under the likes of head coach Jerod Mayo and new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. 

The combination of inside and outside forces should hopefully keep the key parts of the culture while shaking up the aspects of the team that have become stale. And this team is expected to shake things up BIG TIME at the quarterback position, as they are rumored to use the third pick on one of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels. 

Before we get to the draft, however, we need to go through free agency. So, let’s take a moment to look at the depth chart, contracts, and salary cap to make some predictions on what the Patriots might do this offseason. Maybe the fantasy gamers out there can use some of this info to get an advantage in their dynasty leagues as well!

*The salary cap numbers referenced in this article come courtesy of our friends over at Spotrac.com*

Fantasy Football Depth Chart: New England Patriots


Mac Jones

Bailey Zappe

Nathan Rourke


Running Back

Rhamondre Stevenson

Ezekiel Elliott

Kevin Harris

JaMycal Hasty

Wide Receiver

DeVante Parker

Jalen Reagor

Matthew Slater


Wide Receiver

JuJu Smith-Schuster

DeMario Douglas

Kayshon Boutte


Wide Receiver

Kendrick Bourne

Tyquan Thornton

Tre Nixon


Tight End

Hunter Henry

Mike Gesicki

Pharaoh Brown

La'Michael Pettway


White = unrestricted free agent

Green = role is safe

Yellow = role could be in jeopardy

Red = could be traded or released




Mac JonesThere had been rumors floating around that Bill Belichick wanted to trade Mac Jones, but Bob Kraft did not. Whether those rumors are true or not, it seems pretty clear the Patriots will select a QB at three and would be open to moving Mac if another team wanted to give him another shot. After a fairly accurate and competent rookie season, the last two have been a nightmare for Jones with 24 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and multiple benchings. 

As far as what they would get for him? It’s hard to say for sure. Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold were both traded for second-round picks, but they were also drafted very high while Mac Jones was the 15th pick. Jimmy Garoppolo also fetched a second, but he had more promising upside. Trey Lance as a complete mystery box went last year for a fourth. Guys like Joe Flacco and Gardner Minshew went for a sixth, so you have to assume he’d go for more than that. 

At the end of the day, it feels like they would be very lucky to get a third or a fourth back. I think the trade might look something like the Baker Mayfield trade to the Panthers where the Browns got a fifth that would turn into a fourth is Baker played more than 70% of the snaps. 


UPDATE It has been reported that Mac Jones will be traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bailey ZappeFor a fourth-round pick, Bailey Zappe got about as an extended of a look as you are going to see. And he was fine. Zappe could have another shot at some point. Unfortunately though, if the Patriots are trading Mac Jones, Zappe could end up sticking on the roster as the backup to whatever QB they take in the draft. Even if they don’t take a QB at three, the other side of the rumors includes addressing the QB position through free agency. They could also just release Zappe, draft a QB, and bring in a veteran backup (like Joe Flacco, who just worked with Alex Van Pelt.

As far as the dynasty fantasy football values for both Mac Jones and Zappe, that is format dependent. In one QB leagues, they can likely be dropped. In superflex leagues, you have to look at how deep they are and how hard QBs are to come by. Mac is a hold, Bailey you would need deep benches.

Nathan RourkeThe Patriots weren’t going to put Mac Jones back on the field and risk injury (and whatever remaining trade value he had). So they claimed Rourke off waivers to be their emergency QB. Simple as that. He’s an exclusive rights free agent so could be kept for depth but he’s more of a practice squad guy. 

PATRIOTS QB FREE AGENCY TAKE: Most signs point to the Patriots taking a quarterback with the third overall pick. If they don’t, they would need to decide if they are simply doing a bridge year here or if they want to pay up for one of the bigger names and compete. The best QBs to win now are Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, and Russell Wilson (who is expected to be released). There are some interesting young(ish) names to kick the tires on as well who are under 30 that we’ll list as well.

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT OPTIONS: Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson, Sam Darnold, Drew Lock, Gardner Minshew, Tyler Huntley, Joe Flacco


Running Back

Rhamondre StevensonAlex Van Pelt comes to town as the new OC so we can expect a healthy amount of play action, bootlegs, pulling lineman etc. It’s not as heavy before the snap on motion but there is a lot of movement behind the line to create mismatches. 

If Rhamondre Stevenson can get a handle on the reads the way Nick Chubb was able to, he should be in line for some explosive plays. As with any new regime, we’ll need to keep an eye out for them bringing in familiar faces or scheme fits that could split the workload, but this change could be an excited upgrade for Stevenson if he ends up the bell cow. 

Ezekiel ElliottElliott is an unrestricted free agent so he might end up hitting the market. He wasn’t super-efficient filling in for Stevenson, but he was able to brute force his way to production via volume. Elliott returning might be a good thinking for Stevenson as the devil you know is often better than the one you don’t, and we know that Stevenson outperformed Zeke when healthy.

Kevin HarrisThese are the kinds of guys that are often in the most danger. I know they promoted Jerod Mayo from within but you never know whether the loyalties lie. The sixth round Harris was actually released by the Patriots previously then worked his way back through the practice squad. Because of that, he can be released for just under a million dollars in savings with zero dead cap. So he’ll essentially need to earn this team from scratch.

Jamycal Hasty: After being released, there were actually multiple teams that claimed Hasty but the Patriots simply had the worse record. Hasty’s path to making the team is likely via contributions in the return game where he helped out both the 49ers and Jaguars. He could also be released for $1.3 million in cap space with no dead cap so that’s on the table. 

PATRIOTS RB FREE AGENCY TAKE: Though not technically on the roster, it’s worth mentioning that former third-round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn was signed to a reserves/futures deal. Regardless, the Pats have their top dog and probably just need a little extra depth either via free agency or late in the draft (early capital should be used on more pressing matters). One familiar face out there for Alex Van Pelt would be former Cleveland Brown Kareem Hunt. Never hurts to bring in guys that can help teach the system.

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT OPTIONS: Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, Zack Moss, Matt Breida


Wide Receiver

DeVante ParkerThis past offseason DeVante Parker signed a three-year extension that likely keeps him with the Pats for the 2024 season at least. There’s really not much benefit in trading or releasing him - even designating him a post-June 1 cut would only save $1.4 million in cap space in 2024 with dead cap of $4.7 million in 2024 and $1.5 million in 2025. So he’ll be competing for split end on the outside.

JuJu Smith-SchusterCalling this season disappointing for JuJu would be an understatement as he finished with less than 300 yards. And the contract is equally disappointing as there’s no real value in releasing him. He would have ~$12.3 million in dead cap regardless of whether you cut him now or use the June 1 designation and spread it over two years. And even doing that would only have ~$647K in savings. 

If he were traded, however, he would have ~$5.3 million in dead cap with $5 million in savings. He’ll be on the Pats unless they trade him and, if that’s the case, it would probably be for a Day 3 draft pick simply for the savings. On the flip side, he will get a new QB this year and there were reports that his knee was not healthy so maybe he can be a super cheap buy-low candidate in fantasy. If you have a lot of bench spots, that is.

Tyquan ThorntonThe speedy second round pick is on a rookie deal, so he’ll be back to stretch the field for New England in 2024. For fantasy football, the question is whether he can graduate from a field stretcher to a full-time WR with a more well-rounded route tree. That is virtually always the question with these speedsters which often makes them better bets in best ball formats. 

Demario DouglasDouglas was one of the lone bright spots in this offense as the man they call “Pop” was able to pop off for a few explosive plays throughout the year. He actually ended the season leading the Patriots in snaps, playing over 90% in both of the last two games of the year. He’s the most promising Patriots wide receiver in your dynasty leagues right now. 

Kendrick BourneBourne started out as the Patriots leading receiver, but injuries derailed him. And the emergence of Demario Douglas may have made him expendable. Coming off a torn ACL he says he hopes to be ready for Week 1, but it may take a while for him to get signed as teams wait to see what that timeline is looking like. 

Byron PringlePringle is in a similar spot to Crowder except with kicks. He and Antonio Gibson handled kick returns and they are both free agents. If both of them are gone, the Commanders will need someone to handle those duties. 

Kayshon BoutteThere was some pre-draft hype around Boutte but the reality here is that he went in the 6th round and didn’t really show anything that suggests he should have gone earlier. So like many late round guys, he’ll have to earn his roster spot. He can be released with $821K in savings, $140K in dead cap. 

Jalen ReagorReagor’s main role was to return kicks. Maybe they retain him for those services, maybe not. But he doesn’t have much fantasy upside at this stage after multiple tries with multiple organizations.

Matthew SlaterIf this is the end of a career, it’s the end of a great one. Slater will certainly end up in the Patriots Hall of Fame and arguments could be made that he and other special teams legends like Steve Tasker deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But that’s a discussion for another day.

PATRIOTS WR FREE AGENCY TAKE: Honestly, the Patriots hands are kind of tied here with a lot of guys coming back even if they don’t love them. They have the basics of a WR room with a split end in Parkers, slot/flankers in JuJu and Demario Douglas, and a field stretcher in Thornton. There’s no reason for them to go out and spend on a guy like Mike Evans when they aren’t ready to compete now. If they do go after a high end WR, it should be in the draft. In free agency I don’t expect them to do much more than maybe bring in guys that could serve on special teams 

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT OPTIONS: Jamal Agnew, Mack Hollins, Chris Moore, Devin Duvernay, James Proche


Tight End

Hunter HenryIt’s hard to adequately grade Henry’s time in New England with such subpar quarterback play. The volume was never going to be there. But he did flash his ability to win in one one-on-one or contested catch situations in the red area. The offense Van Pelt ran in Cleveland HEAVILY featured multiple tight end sets, headlined by the uber athletic David Njoku. The reality is that this is a thin free agent class at tight end so, outside of the draft, bringing Henry back might be their best bet. 

Mike GesickiThe “big slot WR” Mike Gesicki never really panned out in New England, despite a number of injuries to pass catchers that should have paved the way. Tight ends in the new system need to block so Gesicki is likely hitting the road. If he can land somewhere that almost exclusively uses him from a WR spot, he could see a bit of a bounceback in production. 

Pharaoh BrownBrown actually did two different stints with the Cleveland Browns under Van Pelt in 2020 and 2022. That actually makes him a pretty realistic candidate to return in 2024 despite being an unrestricted free agent. 

La’Michael Pettway: Pettway was briefly called up from the practice squad but never actually saw any action. So he’s more of a practice squad guy. 

PATRIOTS TE FREE AGENCY TAKE: Taking a tight end in the NFL Draft isn’t off the table for New England. But let’s assume they didn’t. The best two way free agent tight ends are Hunter Henry and Dalton Schultz. Gerald Everett is more of a Mike Gesicki type so I don’t envision them bringing him in. If they wanted to take a shot on an athletic specimen hoping to find the next David Njoku, giving a guy like Noah Fant a look wouldn’t be crazy. 

If they bring Pharaoh Brown back (or maybe bring in Harrison Bryant who work with Van Pelt in Cleveland), they would have the top two tight ends figured out. Noah Fant in the David Njoku role with Harrison Bryant and Pharaoh Brown already knowing the scheme actually sounds pretty reasonable. 

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT OPTIONS: Hunter Henry, Dalton Schultz, Noah Fant, Pharaoh Brown, Harrison Bryant, Albert Okwuegbunam


NFL Free Agency Previews

Discover our other breakdowns for the rest of the league ahead of 2024 NFL free agency: