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Tony Romo has optimistic prediction for Pats' future at end of AFC title game originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
It's understandably a tough time for New England Patriots fans right now.
The Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 after struggling to earn a 7-9 record during the 2020 regular season. If that wasn't bad enough for fans around New England, they had to watch former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lead his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to Super Bowl LV with an NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Not everyone is all doom and gloom about the Patriots' future, though.
CBS Sports' Tony Romo offered an optimistic take on the Patriots when evaluating the state of the AFC at the end of Sunday night's AFC Championship Game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.
"(The Bills) will be back next year. They will. I'm telling you, the AFC is going to be loaded," Romo said on the CBS broadcast. "New England is going to get back in this thing. I have a feeling (Bill) Belichick, with that much salary cap (space), they'll find a way to come back in this thing."
We can debate all day long how far away the Patriots are from the AFC's top tier, but what can't be disputed is they'll have a couple avenues to make significant improvements to their roster before next season.
One of those paths, as Romo alluded to, is free agency. The Patriots are projected to have $57,310,665 in the offseason, per OverTheCap.com, and only three teams are expected to have a higher amount. New England also could have as many as 10 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, including projected compensatory selections. The Pats also could get some of the eight players who opted out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 back for next season.
The Patriots absolutely have to upgrade at quarterback to have any chance of getting back in the mix for the AFC crown. Finding a new QB could involve a trade, taking a player at No. 15 overall in the first round of the draft or signing a veteran in free agency.
The good news for the Patriots is they have options this offseason. Now it's up to Belichick and his staff to make the most of them.