The New England Patriots may have won Super Bowl LIII, but in Madden 19 their road to another Super Bowl victory is much tougher. While this roster has a lot of talent, there are also many holes that need feeling and aging stars that need a backup plan.
The Patriots roster starts with a terrific 86 overall rating in Franchise Mode, fueled by a 93 offense and backed up with an 85 defense, but this is also a roster on the brink of imploding. Madden 19 is a game of speed and strength, and the Patriots roster lacks that. It is versatile and smart. That’s great for the NFL, but less deadly in Madden 19. Let’s look first at the salary cap situation the Patriots find themselves in in Franchise Mode.
New England Patriots Salary Cap
The Patriots start the 2018 preseason with $40.7 million in cap space. This is only going to go up as you need to cut 10 players before the regular season starts. There are 16 players that can be cut immediately with no penalty, and while some of them you’d like to hang onto (Josh Gordon & Jason McCourty) you can easily create some space here if you want to make a big trade or take a run at a big name free agent after the first season. However, there are several key pieces that are about to hit free agency for the Patriots, so you better have a plan in place for them before you start allocating your dollars elsewhere.
New England Patriots Impending Free Agents
The Patriots have 23 players entering the last year of their contract. While many are quickly and cheaply replaceable, some are very much not. The star of the show here is defensive end Trey Flowers (OVR 88) who has had some key plays in the Patriots recent Super Bowl wins and is their main pass rushing threat in Madden 19. Flowers is just 25 years old and has a quick development trait. He already has excellent pass rushing stats (91 power moves, 88 play recognition) and should be your top priority when it comes to re-signing players.
The next player to look at is Josh Gordon. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about the substance and suspension issues, leaving you with a 27-year-old, physically impressive, receiver. Gordon is one of four wide receivers that will be a free agent for the Patriots, and while you will have Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski to lean on, you need more options. Gordon has some excellent stats (92 speed, 89 spectacular catch) and can stretch the field to help open up space for others.
Other key free agents: Stephen Gostkowski (K), Trent Brown (LT), Jason McCourty (CB), Malcom Brown (DT)
New England Patriots Roster Needs
The Patriots need speed. They have 11 players with 91+ speed rating, but of those only four are players that you can actually use regularly (Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, & Josh Gordon). The likes of Keion Crossen and Braxton Berrios are not viable starters or even role players, so finding some speed from somewhere is necessary. Fortunately, a player like John Ross (75 OVR, 97 speed) can be traded for very cheaply. This allows you to let players like Berrios and Cordarrelle Patterson to walk in free agency while you can take on Ross’ friendly 3-year, $6.55 million contract.
The other place the Patriots roster needs improving is the fall back plan for Tom Brady. While the 6-time Super Bowl champion doesn’t look like walking away from the game any time soon, in Madden 19 he could easily ride off into the sunset after season 1. This will leave you with just Brian Hoyer at quarterback if you don’t have a backup plan. There are no good options in free agency after season 1, unless you like the challenge of trying to win a Super Bowl with Tyrod Taylor or Brock Osweiler. This means you should invest a lot of scout points and draft capital in the quarterback position. Even if you don’t lose Brady after season 1 it is good to have a player that you can develop behind him so that the drop off isn’t too harsh when he does hang it up.
Another player that could decline quickly is Rob Gronkowski. He is already not as fast as he used to be, there are over 50 tight ends with better speed, and at 29 years old the wear and tear is beginning to show. After one season Gronk’s 97 overall can drop precipitously. In season 1 he is a nightmare for defenses to cover and the Patriots playbook has a lot of formations to take advantage of his talents, but as he drops off you’ll need to find another physical receiver. This only adds to the need to re-sign Josh Gordon and hunt through free agency and the draft for another tight end.
The Patriots linebacking corps could also use an infusion of youth as well, and new blood at cornerback is always welcome. While the Patriots roster lacks stand out players like Le’Veon Bell or Tyreek Hill it is relatively deep with players like of Joe Thuney, Lawrence Guy, and Kyle Van Noy providing production at places that used to be a problem for New England. Still, if you want to keep the Patriots at the top of the league then refreshing the roster and managing that salary cap is a must.