The New England Patriots are the dominant team in the NFL right now and reviled for all their recent success and the new signing of Antonio Brown. They have been to 4 of the last 5 Super Bowls, winning three of them.
Despite the salary cap forcing them to turn over their roster and age continuing to take shots at their quarterback, the Patriots are still the force in the AFC, beating the red-hot Chiefs twice last season on the way to yet another Super Bowl win.
However things are easy in the virtual world. Part of the Patriots brilliance is down to the minds of their head coach and quarterback, and unfortunately you don't get Bill Belichick's wisdom in Madden 20.
Can you take over from the most successful head coach in NFL history and continue the Patriots dynasty in Franchise Mode?
The Patriots start Madden 20 with a very healthy 79 overall. This puts them 6th in the NFL, tied with 3 other teams.
The offense is the star of the show, with an massive score of 85. That is the third highest in Madden 20, equal with Rams and Saints, and only bettered by the Eagles and Cowboys.This is thanks the future Hall of Famer under center but also some quality and depth around him.
The defense is less strong, with a score of 79, but they have quality where it counts and the ability to create turnovers.
So who are this teams best players?
Tom Brady, Quarterback (96 OVR)
Development Trait: Superstar X-Factor
Contract: 1 year/$21.5 million
2019 Cap Hit: $21.5 million
Best Stats: Short Accuracy (99), Play Action (99), Awareness (99), Medium Accuracy (98), Throw Power (91), Throw Under Pressure (90), Deep Accuracy (89)
Tom Brady is a guaranteed Hall of Famer and is the most successful player to ever put on pads and a helmet. With six Super Bowl rings, 3 MVPs, and a top 3 spot in nearly ever passing record of note, he doesn't have much left to achieve. Brady's 19 seasons in the NFL have been punctuated by pin-point accuracy, remarkable pre-snap reads, and incredible performances in the clutch.
In Madden 20 Brady is an assassin in the pocket. He has perfect short accuracy (99) and near-perfect medium accuracy (98). He can fool defenses with play action (99) and still has good throw power (91) to drive the ball deep. His awareness (99) is elite but you will have to do the pre-snap reads for him.
He has 5 superstar abilities that include getting better pass blocking, extra hot routes, and clutch performance, while his X-Factor ability "Pro Reads" will highlight the first open receiver for you.
Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback (94 OVR)
Development Trait: Superstar X-Factor
Contract: 3 years/$47.57 million
2019 Cap Hit: $9.17 million
Best Stats: Man Coverage (96), Awareness (95), Press (95), Agility (94), Acceleration (94), Play Recognition (93), Speed (91), Zone Coverage (90)
Stephon Gilmore started his career as the 10th overall pick in 2012 for the Buffalo Bills. He 5 good seasons there before joining the Patriots as a free agent ahead of the 2017 season. Since then Gilmore has become a lockdown cornerback, often being left one-on-one with the opposition's best receiver and winning his battles.
Gilmore is a monster in man coverage (96), with amazing awareness (95), press (95), and play recognition (93) to sniff out plays his way and find the ball.
His superstar abilities provide boosts to his man coverage and breakup ability, while his X-Factor tightens coverage and makes interceptions more likely.
Devin McCourty, Free Safety (89 OVR)
Development Trait: Star
Contract: 1 year/$13.4 million
2019 Cap Hit: $13.4 million
Best Stats: Zone Coverage (92), Speed (90), Acceleration (90), Play Recognition (90), Awareness (88), Pursuit (86), Man Coverage (85)
Devin McCourty was a first-round pick for the Patriots in 2010. Initially he started life as a cornerback and made 7 interceptions as a rookie, earning himself a spot in the Pro Bowl. After a tough sophomore year he started seeing snaps at free safety and soon converted to the position full time where he became a downfield eraser for the Patriots, prowling the deep zones and preventing opposing quarterbacks from finding open windows.
In Madden 20 McCourty is a strong zone safety (92), but he can man up (85) on a player if need be. He has good speed (90) and acceleration (90) to cover ground but his tackling (74) is not ideal.
Shaq Mason, Right Guard (88 OVR)
Development Trait: Star
Contract: 5 years/$43.6 million
2019 Cap Hit: $7.4 million
Best Stats: Run Block Power (92), Run Block (89), Lead Block (89), Awareness (89), Impact Block (88), Strength (87), Pass Block Power (87)
Shaq Mason was a fourth-round pick in 2015 for the Patriots and quickly slotted into the right guard spot as a rookie. In his second year he locked the spot down and has grown and improved ever since.
Mason is a strong run blocker (89) who's strength (87) also shines through in pass protection (84).
Full Roster & Depth Chart
|Deatrich Wise Jr||72||75||85||73||63||60|
|Kyle Van Noy||77||82||85||82||59||69|
|Jamie Collins Sr||73||85||86||78||55||63|
|Duke Dawson Jr||67||90||59||71||68|
The New England Patriots roster is full of quality, albeit not the youthful athletic quality that many players crave in their franchise teams.
Tom Brady (99 short accuracy, 98 medium accuracy) leads the team but is almost guaranteed to retire after year 1, meaning you have a very small window with an elite quarterback to win the Super Bowl.
Supporting Brady is a cast of solid weapons that make the Patriots a pretty flexible offense. At running back you have the tandem of Sony Michel (93 agility, 84 trucking) and James White (92 acceleration, 79 catching) as well as rookie Damien Harris (90 carrying, 82 juke move).
At wide receiver is the ever-reliable slot option of Julian Edelman (97 short route, 88 catching) along with the deep threats of Josh Gordon (91 speed, 89 spectacular catch) and Phillip Dorsett (95 speed, 89 jump). Demaryius Thomas (90 spectacular catch, 90 jump) and Cameron Meredith (90 jump, 88 catching) provide solid options too, allowing you to spread the ball out.
Tight end is a bit of a weakness now that Rob Gronkowksi has retired, but Benjamin Watson (87 catching, 79 short route) is a solid player for the time being.
The offensive line is consistent and reliable. The interior trio of Joe Thuney (87 pass block, 82 run block), David Andrews (90 run block, 84 pass block), and Shaq Mason (89 run block, 84 pass block) are very good while young left tackle Isaiah Wynn (78 run block, 77 pass block) will improve with time.
Defensively the strength of the Patriots lies in the secondary. Stephon Gilmore (96 man cover, 95 press) is a star cornerback and Devin McCourty (92 zone cover, 90 play recognition) can make plays at free safety. Jason McCourty (92 speed, 84 man cover) is a good #2 corner while Jonathan Jones (95 speed, 74 man cover) and JC Jackson (92 acceleration, 76 man cover) are young up-and-comers that can play the slot.
The Patriots start franchise mode with 74 players in the preseason and $26.3 million in cap space. Cutting down to the 53-man roster should take that up to $30-32 million depending on who you cut, which is a nice sum of money and leaves you with the flexibility to make a trade and retain some up coming free agents.
Tom Brady's $21.5 million should come off the books in season 2, leaving you with a lot of space if you opt to replace him with a cheap rookie. However, there are some impending free agents you'll need to look after with that space...
Impending Free Agents
When you start franchise mode with the Patriots in the preseason there will be 28 players entering the last season of their contract. Most of these players will be cut before the season starts, but there are some players that you will be relying on and will have to have a plan for. Excluding Tom Brady, who will retire after season 1, who are the key players to think about re-signing?
Devin McCourty, Free Safety (89 OVR)
McCourty is the soul of the Patriots secondary, and the rangy free safety has been a key part of their Super Bowl triumphs. At 32 he is certainly on the decline, but finding top free safeties is hard work. There isn't much behind him, with Duke Dawson (67 OVR) unlikely to be ready to take over in season 2.
McCourty's speed (90), acceleration (90), and zone coverage (92) will all take a hit going into season 2, but unless you can find a strong rookie in the draft you would be wise to hang on to McCourty for another year.
Joe Thuney, Left Guard (84 OVR)
Thuney makes up a key part of the Patriots offense. Their strength on the interior of the offensive line provides a good pocket to work in and lanes for the running backs.
At 26 Thuney is entering his prime and has plenty of room for improvement. His pass block (87), run block (82) and awareness (87) will all improve so you should extend him.
Josh Gordon, Wide Receiver (83 OVR)
Thankfully you don't have to worry about Josh Gordon getting suspended in Madden 20 so you are only concerned about what he can bring you on the field.
Keeping him really comes down to what kind of offense you want to be. Gordon's speed (91), deep route running (86), and spectacular catch (89) make him a good deep ball receiver. That's useful if you are a run & play action offense or like to stand in the shotgun and fire bombs downfield. If that isn't you then he isn't really needed here.
Wide receivers are also very easy to add in the draft so don't be afraid of letting Gordon walk.
Kyle Van Noy, Outside Linebacker (77 OVR)
At 28 Van Noy is in that frustrating area for a contract extension. The Madden aging curve usually kicks in around 30, so he doesn't have long until his stats will take a hit. However, the Patriots are not especially deep at linebacker and finding one that can do a bit of everything is hard.
Van Noy can tackle (82), has good acceleration (89) to close down ball carriers and solid zone coverage (69) and power moves (77). That is a useful package that will allow you to move between 3-4 and 4-3 base defenses and disguise your bitzes and coverages.
New England Patriots Roster Needs
The biggest need for the Patriots is a successor to Tom Brady. Until you have that nothing really matters. It is relatively easy to develop a quarterback in Madden since you do all the thinking and reading for them, but drafting one with good arm strength and accuracy immediately is not always easy.
After the QB, the Patriots pass rush could use a boost. The defensive line has nice depth but no stand out player. You could try and develop the likes of Chase Winovich and Deatrich Wise but that will be hard work.
Finding a long-term replacement for Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung will be key to preventing big plays on defense. Both are 32 and will struggle to remain productive into season 3, if they remain in the NFL at all.
You can move cornerbacks into free safety relatively simply, but finding a player that can run and tackle is tricky.
The offensive line could use an upgrade at right tackle, but that isn't too urgent.
The priority for your first free agency/draft will be quarterback, and once that is sorted you can begin to fill in around it with a new free safety, an good option at tight end, and more pass rush.