This offseason has been interesting.

Rob Gronkowski thought about retiring, but didn’t. Then, he skipped the Pats’ offseason training activities. Tom Brady didn’t seriously consider retirement, but he also skipped sessions. Danny Amendola is gone. The same goes for Malcolm Butler, Nate Solder and Dion Lewis. Former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is gone. Josh McDaniels almost left, but spurned the Indianapolis Colts and returned. Julian Edelman is still here, but opens up the season with a four-game suspension.

Instagram posts were analyzed. Rumors swirled about remaining tension between Brady and Bill Belichick. A member of the Patriots secondary was even denied entry into Costa Rica.

The offseason was exhausting with Patriots stories. With veterans reporting to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday and training camp opening on Thursday, plenty of questions face the Pats. It isn’t known who will protect Brady’s blindside or who he’ll target in the slot. It’s uncertain who will return punts or line up opposite Stephon Gilmore at cornerback.

If one thing is certain, it’s that the Patriots already look very different from last year’s squad. Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.

The drama this offseason centered around both the offense and defense. With Brady and Gronk skipping OTAs, it only heightened the message that things could be changing in Foxborough. That’s the case on both sides of the ball. On offense, Belichick will be happy that Brady and Gronk are preparing to report to training camp. That’s a good sign for an offense that is searching for answers at multiple positions.

The biggest question mark is at left tackle.

With Solder in New York with the Giants, the Pats head into camp without a stable left tackle for the first time in Belichick’s tenure. The competition could come down to three players – Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn and LaAdrian Waddle. Wynn, the Patriots’ first rounder, might have the highest ceiling, but he’s undersized at 6-foot-1. Brown certainly doesn’t lack size at 6-8, but has dealt with conditioning issues throughout his career. Waddle was solid in spurts last season, but has more experience at right tackle.

The Pats also have questions at receiver. With Amendola gone and Edelman suspended, Brady is in need of some new targets. We all know Gronkowski will lead the team in receiving – if healthy – and that James White will factor in on third down, but we don’t know what the wide-receiver depth chart will look like.

Chris Hogan could step up, but beyond him, there are a handful of players with minimum experience in this system. Vying for a spot on the 53-man roster is Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, Cody Hollister and Devin Lucian, who the Pats signed on Monday. The Patriots could even deal away a receiver or two. With Lewis gone, the Patriots also have to replace their leading rusher from 2017. Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill are all in the running for an increased role.

On defense, the Patriots are looking to improve their pass rush after a difficult 2017 season. In free agency, they added veteran Adrian Clayborn. They also traded for defensive tackle Danny Shelton.

Both players could start in Week 1.

In the secondary, a battle is brewing to replace Butler at cornerback. The Patriots traded for Jason McCourty, twin brother of Devin McCourty, and the veteran could have an instant impact. Eric Rowe will also be in the running along with rookies Duke Dawson, Keion Crossen, and JC Jackson.

To top it off, the Pats will have a new defensive coordinator this season – well, sort of. With Patricia coaching the Detroit Lions, former linebackers coach Brian Flores is expected to be the defensive signal caller. In typical Patriots fashion, no coordinator has been officially announced and might not be this season.

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