Reimer: With quarterbacks in his sights, Bill Belichick poised to deliver wildest week of Patriots palace intrigue yet

Alex Reimer
April 23, 2018 - 11:45 am

Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

For somebody who appears to loathe the media, Bill Belichick is awfully good to us. And this week, which looks like it will end with the Patriots selecting a quarterback early in the NFL Draft, promises to be the most wild time of an already incredible offseason that’s been littered with palace intrigue.

It’s understandable if some out there have Patriots drama fatigue. Despite Adam Schefter’s circuitously worded report, it seems almost certain Tom Brady will return this season. He’s reportedly been training with guru Alex Guerrero and plans to run a passing camp with teammates in Montana this summer. Most importantly, Brady committed to returning before the Super Bowl. 

Rob Gronkowski also isn’t very good at playing coy. His bizarre motocross press conference came off like a giant brightly colored middle finger at Belichick and his philosophy of shunning the press. But in the middle of Gronk’s sophomoric and dreadful comedic routine, he seemingly let his intentions for the upcoming season slip.

When asked about what his future, Gronkowski said his fans would “see a freak-a-leek” when he comes back.

Whoops.

But just like Danny Amendola’s public rebuke of Belichick, and Brady’s rumination at the end of “Tom vs. Time,” and the Guerrero ban, and whispers about Brady’s and Gronk’s retirements, and Brady’s and Gronk’s absences from voluntary workouts, and the social media subtweets, there was something remarkable about Gronk mocking the uncertainty of his football future decked out in neon-colored motocross gear at a podium in Gillette Stadium. Just one year ago, it would have been an unfathomable display of noncompliance. Now, it’s another chapter in the Patriots’ offseason full of innuendo, hearsay and leaks.

It makes sense for the Patriots to draft a quarterback in the first or second round. Brady’s newfound penchant for hinting at retirement doesn’t make it appear as if he’s going to play until he’s 45, which he was saying as recently as January. 

But it is at odds with how most clubs would handle the Brady situation. Drafting a quarterback while he’s still on the roster is not a move to win now. It is a move for the future. 

The Patriots, armed with the No. 23 and No. 31 overall picks and two second-rounders, are doing their due-diligence. They reportedly hosted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson for a visit two weeks ago, and came away “intrigued and impressed” with the 2016 Heisman trophy winner. 

In addition, the Patriots have also reportedly brought in Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta and Washington State’s Luke Falk. Both project to be available in the second-round. 

Even though Brady will likely only be around for a couple of more years at most, the Patriots haven’t approached this offseason with urgency. They’ve subtracted from their roster, allowing Amendola to sign with Miami and trading Brandin Cooks to the Rams. Nate Solder left for the Giants and Malcolm Butler is in Tennessee. Brady, even if he may have not been infatuated with Cooks, has a worse team around him. 

The Patriots have lots of needs: left tackle, tight end, pass-rusher, cornerback. Over the last three years, they’ve only selected three players in the first or second rounds. They have opportunities to bring in several rookies who could help right away. Whomever they draft at quarterback is not going to see the field as long as Brady is in uniform. 

When Belichick curiously shipped Jimmy Garoppolo to the only team he called, it seemed as if Brady won the power struggle. He was the last man standing at QB, and Belichick would build around him. But from the moment Belichick benched Butler in the Super Bowl, it was apparent he has other plans. The Hoodie is not going to change his philosophy. 

That’s why the Guerrero rift is seemingly unresolved, appearing to curb any chance of the drama dissipating this spring or summer. And that’s also why Belichick will probably take a quarterback early in the draft this week. 

The palace intrigue is amplifying, even if we already know the likely ending. 

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