The Patriots’ 6-item to-do list at the NFL combine 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome to the NFL mix.

Every offseason, Indianapolis serves a hub of league enterprise, from scouting to free-agent negotiations, commerce talks, potential rule adjustments and extra. While the league spotlights the on-field exercises, it’s what occurs behind closed doorways — inside bars, eating places, inns and convention rooms — the place the lifeblood of the mix flows.

For the Patriots, this yr’s mix is their most crucial in years, maybe a long time.

Director of scouting Eliot Wolf is now atop the entrance workplace, putting in a brand new scouting system whereas he makes an attempt to infuse the Pats’ roster with new expertise in a brand new period. Several of the workforce’s inner free brokers are thought-about among the many NFL’s greatest accessible gamers at their positions. And in two months, the Patriots are scheduled to make a decide at No. 3 total in what’s considered as a three-quarterback draft class with no face of the franchise on board.

It’s time to get all the way down to enterprise. Here are the six most urgent objects on the Patriots’ to-do record at this yr’s mix:

1. Meet with the highest quarterbacks

You know the names by now.

Caleb Williams. Drake Maye. Jayden Daniels.

The Patriots could have a chance to fulfill face-to-face with all of them in Indianapolis, plus a couple of different quarterbacks (Michael Penix and Bo Nix, amongst others) throughout official 15-minute interviews. If Wolf follows Patriot precedent, these sitdowns will largely probe the prospects’ character and soccer IQ. The Pats have been identified to conduct intense interviews, a approach of stress-testing gamers on their board.

FILE – North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) appears to be like to move in opposition to Syracuse in the course of the first half of an NCAA faculty soccer sport Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

NFL groups are solely permitted 45 official interviews, however usually communicate informally with a lot of the prospects in Indianapolis. Relatedly, if the Patriots meet with one, two or all three high quarterbacks, it isn’t, by itself, proof of great curiosity. Most groups meet with most gamers, from quarterbacks to backup inside linebackers.

But with regards to the sport’s most vital place, no prospect interviews will likely be extra vital than these. Keep an eye fixed on the QBs.

2. Further talks with inner free brokers

According to sources, the Patriots have already begun contract talks with most of their inner free brokers (Kyle Dugger, Mike Onwenu and Kendrick Bourne, to call a couple of). How shut are they?

Both sides will quickly be taught much more on the mix, the place brokers representing these gamers yearly gauge exterior curiosity of their shoppers. Officially, these talks are generally known as unlawful tampering. Unofficially, that is how enterprise is finished.

It would behoove the Patriots to fulfill with brokers repping their very own gamers later within the week, after these brokers decide the marketplace for their respective shoppers. The Pats at the moment maintain roughly $83 million in cap room, second-most within the league, heading into free company. NFL free company will open with a two-day “legal tampering” interval on Monday, March 11, throughout which era a lot of the richest free-agent offers are struck.

NFL notes: Patriots’ 7-round mock draft, free-agent contract projections, Eliot Wolf intel

3. Tamper, tamper, tamper!

Before the Patriots circle again with these brokers, they need to search those repping different gamers and check the waters.

The Pats have the money and the cap so as to add an elite wideout — Michael Pittman Jr. or Mike Evans — an offensive sort out and defensive starters. Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed ranks among the many NFL’s greatest at a premium place, as do defensive linemen Brian Burns and Justin Madiubuike. Offensively, Jaguars wideout Calvin Ridley, Giants operating again Saquon Barkley and Texans tight finish Dalton Schultz are different names to know.

4. Establish the commerce market

How a lot might the Patriots fetch in a Mac Jones commerce?

What would it not value to accumulate a veteran — like Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins? — in a tag-and-trade situation?

Is there a high-priced veteran the Pats might purchase and take up into their cap area at a minimal commerce value?

The entrance workplace ought to be asking all of those questions amongst themselves and in talks with different executives on the mix. There are 3 ways to construct a roster: free company, the draft and through commerce. The Patriots, given the sad-sack state of their workforce, should discover each avenue.

Patriots 2024 NFL Scouting Combine primer: What to know

5. Gather medical data

Before the quarterbacks throw, operating backs run and defensive gamers burst by drills, most each prospect attending the mix will bear a bodily. These physicals are crucial to the analysis course of as a type of danger administration for groups, who will transfer gamers up and down their boards based mostly on this data alone. Most prospects are wholesome and can come by squeaky clear, however sometimes these checks will unearth a beforehand unreported damage or situation.

Then, groups will determine whether or not these gamers — as well as these actively recovering from a school damage — are well worth the danger of a excessive draft decide. Sometimes, as within the case of one-time Arizona tight finish and second-round decide Rob Gronkowski — the reward of including gamers deemed to be excessive damage danger is immense. Other occasions, unhealthy medical data leads on to a nasty decide and wasted draft capital.