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Patriots mailbag: Questions about the quarterbacks on this team and some others – The Boston Globe



I’ll weasel out of this question with a two-part reply: On defense, they’re an 8. If they stay healthy (which is a huge if), this defense has a chance to be very good. There are some areas that could use additional depth (cornerback, defensive end), but right now, this defense is as good as any group in the division, and maybe the AFC.

On offense, I’d give them a 3, with the potential to reach a 5 or 6, depending on how the quarterback situation plays out this spring. They have a new offensive coordinator and three new quarterbacks, and there are just so many questions on the offensive side of the ball: quarterback, left tackle, depth at running back and wide receiver.

If it all comes together, fantastic. But until then, they’re in the lower third of the NFL on that side of the ball.

Last season saw a record number of starting quarterbacks land on the injured list, some for extended periods. Which returning quarterbacks do you see having the best bounce-back success, and importantly, what do you think Aaron Rodgers, who turns 41 in December, has left in the tank?

— Patrick Halley, Bartow, Fla. (via Hudson)

Great question. I really love Joe Burrow. He’s a tough, smart guy with a great makeup, and I think he’s set up for success because of Cincinnati’s roster construction. To be truly great in this league as a quarterback, you need to battle through adversity, and he had to do that last season. I can see him coming back and having an MVP-type season.

I’d put Kirk Cousins in that next tier, but only because the Atlanta offense is balanced enough where the Falcons won’t need Cousins to put up the wild numbers he did for a few years in Minnesota. A good but not great statistical season for the veteran.

I also think that while Justin Herbert’s injury (fractured finger) wasn’t as dramatic as some of the others, he’s also set for a bounce-back season, at least in part because of the coaching change in Los Angeles and the decision to draft a franchise left tackle in Joe Alt.

As for Rodgers, he’s a bit of a mystery to me. There’s a lot of off-field distractions surrounding the Jets’ veteran signal-caller. Of course, overcoming a lot of that drama (which is often of his own doing) is something he’s been able to accomplish.

Can he do it again, on the biggest stage in the league, at the age of 40? My gut says don’t bet against him, but I wonder if he’ll be able to physically hold up.

Do you expect the Patriots to make a player-for-player trade between now and Week 1? If so, from what position and for what position?

— Miguel Benzan, via X

As we sit here right now, I could see a number of moves (signing one of the remaining free agents, making a deal involving draft picks, etc.) but I don’t think they’d make a player-for-player trade. If they do, my guess is it’ll happen on offense, and for a disgruntled wide receiver.

Did the Krafts specifically request the London (or any) international game?

— Marie Parsons, via X

Terrific question. I reached out to a Patriots spokesperson for an answer, and it seems to indicate an overall willingness on the part of the franchise to be a part of the conversation: “The Krafts have always supported the international growth of the game and have been supportive of the league’s efforts to do so, including playing international games as often as the league feels is needed.”

What can the Patriots draw up to get Joe Milton III into a game?

— Eugene, via X

Milton’s phenomenal arm strength and size make him an easy choice as the most fascinating choice in the Patriots’ draft class. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prospect with so much raw talent when it comes to one particular aspect of his game; he delivered one really impressive deep ball down the sideline during Monday’s OTA.

But he also struggles with consistency in his short and intermediate game, something we also saw during Monday’s workout. He’s not ready to take consistent snaps in an NFL game.

Ultimately, I think his impressive size (6-5, 235) could play a role if New England wants to use him as a gadget guy; lining him up in the backfield or utilizing him in a wildcat package is a possibility. (He had 299 rushing yards and seven touchdowns last season with the Vols.)

A lot has to happen between now and Labor Day for him to make the final 53-man roster, but he certainly presents himself as a potentially intriguing piece of the puzzle.

Now that the schedule is out, what was the biggest surprise for you and why?

— Carl, via email

Three surprises stood out for me: 1. Only one prime-time game. The Patriots don’t move the needle the way they used to, but that was still an eye-opener. 2. The league didn’t schedule the Arizona and San Francisco games back-to-back to cut down on travel. And 3. The bye week wasn’t scheduled immediately following the trip to London. (Which is usually the case.)

All that being said, I’m still taking the over on the 4.5 wins that many sportsbooks have set for the Patriots.

Christopher Price can be reached at Follow him @cpriceglobe.

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