Hearing New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth mull their NFL futures before Super Bowl LIII hinted at how significant the offseason changes could be for both teams.
Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, Stephen Gostkowski and four receivers who logged more than 1,900 combined snaps are among the Patriots players eligible for free agency. The Rams' list features Ndamukong Suh, Lamarcus Joyner, Rodger Saffold and Dante Fowler Jr.
There's no shortage of variables to consider. I've sorted through the most important ones since the Patriots' 13-3 victory over the Rams in Atlanta, putting together a primer on just how different these teams could appear when 2019 training camps open:
Different by design
While re-signing your own players has long been a fundamental tenet of sound roster building, letting good-but-not-great ones leave as unrestricted free agents can carry upside as well. The NFL's system for compensatory draft choices makes it so.
The Rams and Patriots maximized the comp-pick system last offseason by letting high-profile unrestricted free agents leave, then replacing them outside the unrestricted free-agent market. The approach works best when the departing UFAs are good enough to command rich contracts, but not good enough to justify those contracts purely from a value standpoint.
The Rams could net two third-round compensatory draft choices in 2019 after letting Trumaine Johnson and Sammy Watkins leave as unrestricted free agents last offseason. The Patriots could net two third-rounders for letting Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler leave the same way. All four players fit the good-not-great template. They are not great values on their current deals.