Patriots one of three teams to start physical portion of offseason virtual workout program

Bill Belichick is always looking for an advantage, which is why it should surprise no one to see that the Patriots are one of just three teams that began the physical portion of their virtual offseason workout program Monday.

While 12 teams began the virtual period of their offseason program Monday, only the Patriots, Bills and Colts have started physical training, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero. The other seven teams are doing “classwork, but no physical training.” Buffalo, which is trying to unseat the Patriots as the AFC East division champions, is offering over $3 million in workout bonuses for its players. 

The five teams that are showcasing new coaches for 2020 — the Browns, Cowboys, Giants, Panthers and Redskins — have decided to run a “virtual voluntary veteran minicamp,” which will take place from May 11-14. The NFL has indefinitely canceled any in-person team activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Belichick is in the midst of his 21st offseason as the Patriots head coach, but this is the first time in 19 years that he will have someone other than Tom Brady as his starting quarterback. Along with starting the physical component of his virtual offseason program, Belichick and his staff have been busy working on the 2020 draft, which will begin on Thursday night. There has been speculation that the Patriots could try to trade up from their current spot in the first round — the 23rd overall pick — in order to select a quarterback.

While the Patriots don’t have much to offer in terms of draft picks (they gave up this year’s second-round pick in their trade with the Falcons to acquire Mohamed Sanu last season), the Lions, Giants and Dolphins — the teams with the third, fourth and fifth overall picks in the draft — employ head coaches that are part of Belichick’s coaching tree, which could serve as a factor as it relates to the Patriots’ ability to trade up into a top five, if that’s what Belichick decides to try to do.

Belichick, during a recent meeting with the media, discussed this year’s quarterback class, a group that includes LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, and Utah State’s Jordan Love.

“There’s quite a range of players and some of the systems that they play in in college are different, either than what we run or what traditional NFL systems would look like, and some are more close schematically to that,” Belichick said, via the team’s official website. “Each guy has his own set of skills; he has his own circumstances. Some players have played well over a sustained period of time; some players have had an exceptional year in the past year or two – maybe 2019, in some cases 2018 – and then for whatever the reasons were, the two years didn’t quite match up. But, that’s I’d say about the way it always is.”

Belichick also touched on the challenges that this offseason presents given the fact that teams cannot physical work with their players. He said that the situation is somewhat similar to what the NFL dealt with in 2011, when most of the offseason was lost to due a holdout over the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“I’d say we’re looking at a situation where the opportunity to train for some players may be more limited, but our opportunity to communicate with them and teach them, even though it’s remote, is infinitely better than what it was during the lockout,” he said. “So, we’ll just have to see how all that plays out, but I do think that from a teaching standpoint, we can get a lot of teaching done that we weren’t able to do nine, 10 years ago in a similar but different situation. I think with the teaching part that we’ll hopefully be OK.”

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