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NFL Notebook: One last go-round for 2020 Patriots, and then an offseason like no other

And you thought last spring brought a lot of turmoil for the Patriots, with Tom Brady departing and several other free agents taking up residence elsewhere.

You ain't seen nothing yet.

After a year in which the Patriots took on water, going from 12-4 to 7-9 or 6-10 after Sunday's finale against the Jets — guessing we won't be seeing any dropkicks in this one — putting this game in the rearview mirror will give the Patriots a needed fresh start.

Things are not completely dire. The Patriots aren't starting from zero at any position other than quarterback. A check of the current 2021 depth charts will show you the Patriots have players at every position and, if the opt-outs return, it's not a completely terrible situation, despite the way it looked sometimes on the field:

Where the Patriots’ offensive depth chart stands for 2021 – Who’s the next QB?
With Devin McCourty likely back in the fold, resetting the 2021 Patriots defensive depth chart

For the first time in a long time — decades? — Bill Belichick will feel some pressure, not to justify his track record or anything like that. But he stands at 310 wins, 37 behind Don Shula on the all-time wins list. That's either three really good seasons worth, or four.

And there's also the situation he boxed himself into a bit. Next year he probably won't be able to use Covid or opt-outs as an excuse. And after crying cap-poor this season, the Patriots will be flush and capable of doing anything they want to do with $60 million available at the minimum, and upwards of $80 million if the cap stays flat. Oh, and considering how Belichick just loves to be second-guessed by the media and have to answer questions like, "Hey Bill, thanks for taking the time to do this ... why are you guys 8-14 since Dec. 2019 and how have the Bills and Dolphins gained the advantage in the AFC East?" I'm sure he'd like to serve everyone a giant helping of shut-the-hell-up in '21.

There's a long to-do list to get that done, and a timeline. A primer on both as we're about to go through this intimately in the coming days, weeks and months:

1. Monitor Black Monday and the NFL hiring season.