This offseason has been an eventful one for the New England Patriots so far, and it's not because of the additions they have made in free agency. For the first time in 20 years, quarterback Tom Brady will not be on roster this upcoming season. The future Pro Football Hall of Famer elected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this month, and New England is now charged with finding a new starting signal-caller.
While many expect the Patriots to take a step backwards without their 14-time Pro Bowler, the players do not. Patriots' wide receiver and special teams star Matthew Slater says that while it will be a "tall task" to move forward without Brady, that doesn't affect their expectations for the 2020 season.
"I don't think the goals change at all," Slater said, via Phil Perry of NBCSportsBoston.com. "I don't think the standards change at all ... We're not the victims here. You don't have time to waste any season in the NFL."
The Patriots have finished in first place in the AFC East 11 straight years, but many believe that streak will be broken in 2020. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore also moving forward without Brady, saying that with every season comes a "clean slate."
"You don't know what you have until you actually get there," Gilmore told ESPN's Mike Reiss. "Everybody, it's a clean slate right now. Everybody has to prove themselves, each and every year. No matter where you're at, it starts over every year."
The Patriots appear poised to host a three-way quarterback battle this offseason between Brian Hoyer, Cody Kessler and Jarrett Stidham. The third is considered by many to be the early favorite to take over for Brady, and Slater voiced his confidence in the young 23-year-old out of Auburn.
"He's just a great kid to be around," Slater said of Stidham, via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. "You can tell he's very appreciative of the opportunity he had last year, and the opportunity he'll have going forward."
"I think he's going to be a good player."