After another successful season, the New England Patriots have their work cut out for them next season if they want to make another trip to the Super Bowl for the fourth straight season. In doing so, it’s safe to say they will need to remain at the top of the division, as they time and time again dominate the AFC East.
Some key player need to step up to put the Patriots over the edge again next season, but it should be asking too much from them considering the team’s level of play for over a decade now. Here are a few players that will need to step up next season to help New England remain an elite team and make another trip to the Super Bowl.
3. Tom Brady
Believe it or not, the Patriots need their elite quarterback to step up next season, as he has done time and time again. The Patriots need Brady to play at the level he has played at for years, but he’ll have his work cut out for him due to the lack of pass catchers and another key departure on the offensive line in Trent Brown.
Next season, Brady will look to play at his usual MVP level, and while he is another year older, it has not shown in his play yet. Brady has shown in the past that he can play through extreme amounts of adversity, but after a fifth Super Bowl title, it gives him a lot to live up to.
2. Dont’a Hightower
The Patriots need their defensive leader to continue to be the player he has been for many years now, and next season will be no different for Dont’a Hightower. Hightower received various offers from inquiring teams just a couple seasons ago, but he decided to re-sign with New England and stake his claim as their leader. Hightower’s numbers have faltered a bit the last seasons, and he’ll need to rebound in a big way to retain his role on the defensive unit.
Unfortunately for New England, they lost defensive end Trey Flowers to free agency, and while he was already a big part of New England’s defensive success, they’ll need Hightower to account for the loss.
Hightower has helped New England remain a top unit for each of the last few seasons and beyond, so it’s likely he can help maintain a strong front for the team’s defense.
1. Julian Edelman
The 2018 season did not start off on the right foot for the Patriots long time receiver, as he spent the first four games serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. The lack of a standout receiver and tight end Rob Gronkowski’s possible retirement will make it even more significant for Edelman to be Brady’s right hand man next season.
The Patriots have several receivers, but none as reliable as Edelman, so it’ll be very important for him to step up as the leader of the receiving corps for next season. Edelman accounted for 850 receiving yards despite missing four games, so it’s clear that his presence in New England’s offense is extremely valuable.
Edelman earned the Super Bowl 53 MVP award after catching 10 passes for 141 yards against the Los Angeles Rams. New England will need their reliable pass catcher to do more of the same for the team next season after carrying out a strong performance to cap the 2018-19 season off.