The New England Patriots are in a complete rebuild mode as they prepare for the 2024 season. Owner Robert Kraft made the difficult decision to fire Bill Belichick and that means the Patriots are in a new era with Jerod Mayo taking over as head coach.

In some ways, when a team is at the start of rebuilding, the pressure decreases to a degree because expectations are reduced. But this is the Patriots franchise, the team that dominated the NFL from 2001 through 2018 by winning six Super Bowls. As a result, there is little patience for a team that has only two playoff appearances in the last 5 years and lost both of those games.

In addition to parting company with Belichick, the Patriots have made big moves at the quarterback position. They have parted company with Mac Jones and brought in veteran free agent Jacoby Brissett for a second tour of duty with the Patriots.

Brissett is a sharp leader and a solid player who can take over the position until first-round draft pick Drake Maye is ready to play. The No. 3 pick overall in the draft has wonderful tools, but he may need a bit longer than some of the other rookie quarterbacks to become his team's QB1.

Brissett should have the responsibility of leading the team for at least the first half of the season, and he will also serve as a mentor for Maye. The signing of Brissett as a free agent is anything but a risky move. He has seen it all through his eight years in the NFL and he should be able to provide a steadying influence for the team as a whole and the young quarterback he will help raise.

Rebuilding through the draft and free agency

In addition to drafting Maye, the Patriots have selected wideout Ja'Lynn Polk of Washington, OT Caedan Wallace of Penn State, OG Layden Robinson of Texas A&M and wideout Javon Baker of Central Florida.

Polk should have the ability to step in and man a starting wideout position. Polk has good size at 6-1 and 203 pounds and he runs a 4.52 40-yard dash. He is coming off an excellent season with the Huskies in which he caught 69 passes for 1,159 yards with 9 touchdowns. He averaged 16.8 yards every time he caught the ball.

He is very committed to making the catch and he will fight opposing defensive backs for the ball. He has excellent hands and will block on running plays with great effort.

In addition to Brissett, the Patriots also signed tight end Austin Hooper from the Las Vegas Raiders, wide receiver KJ Osborn of the Minnesota Vikings, OG Nick Leverett from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, DT Armon Watts from the Steelers, and former Commanders running back Antonio Gibson.

Hooper may turn out to be an excellent asset as he teams with Hunter Henry at the TE position. Players like Leverett, Watts and Gibson may give the Patriots some decent depth when they had little in the last few seasons.

KJ Osborn hopes to step up, but he is not catching passes from Kirk Cousins

New England Patriots wide receiver K.J. Osborn (2) makes a catch at minicamp
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Osborn was a solid and gutsy wide receiver during his time with the Vikings. However, he was never more than the No. 3 receiver when he played in Minnesota, and that meant that he was usually an afterthought in the eyes of opposing defensive coordinators.

As a result he was able to step up and make several clutch catches for the Vikings during the last two seasons.

Osborn caught 60 passes for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns during the 2022 season, and he followed that up with 48 receptions for 540 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.

During his time with the Vikings, Justin Jefferson was the No. 1 receiver for the Vikings and Adam Thielen was the No. 2 receiver in the '22 season. After Thielen left the Vikings, explosive Jordan Addison took over as the No. 2 receiver.

The Patriots are hoping that Osborn can not only take over a key role in the offense, but that he will also be able to show a young receiver like Polk what it is like to prepare and play in the NFL.

As the No. 3 receiver for the Vikings, Osborn played with toughness and courage. It remains to be seen if he can handle a bigger role for Mayo and the Patriots.