New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches his team practice during an NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo. Credit: Steven Senne / AP

Editor’s note: Jeff Solari of the Sports Chowdah column will be taking a hiatus from writing for the BDN while he runs for public office, which is BDN’s policy. Until the results of the November election are final, the other members of the Sports Chowdah team will write the guest columns.

The New England Patriots don’t have a kicker. Last season, Stephen Gostkowski went down with an injury and was replaced by the carousel of “off the couchers” like Kai Forbath, Mike Nugent and Nick Folk.

The Pats used a fifth-rounder on Marshall’s kicker Justin Rohrwasser, who wasn’t ranked in the top 10 of kickers in the draft, but was the first off the board. So, of course, Belichick cut him on Saturday.

Well that’s OK, because he signed Nick Folk back a week ago. So, of course, Belichick cut him, too. A week before the team opens against Miami, the Patriots are sans a kicker. But much like how your fantasy team should operate, why draft a kicker when you can figure it out later?!

I’m actually really excited to see what Belichick does, I think there’s at least a 12 percent chance that Bill runs Rex Burkhead or J.C. Jackson out there because they kicked in junior high, or something equally off the wall. (Though I also believe that some year Belichick will stop using receivers and running backs and bring back ends and flankers.)

Make no mistake, the storyline of the season is what will happen when Cam Newton takes the field as the quarterback of the New England Patriots. This was going to be a fascinating season regardless, not just because it’s the first year after Tom Brady left, but because they’re the Patriots, who are always the lead story. The ante had to be upped with one of the most enigmatic signal callers of the past 30 years taking the reins.

After 20 years of the same QB, the potential of a one-and-done passer on a “prove it” deal is exactly the kind of rebound relationship Patriots fans need.

If this was a dating relationship, after being with someone as consistent as Brady for two decades, wouldn’t your next relationship be with someone like Cam? Dresses wild. Randomly breaks into dance. Physically gifted and brings a different skill set to your offense. The things you look for in any relationship.

The Patriots are always looking for a new challenge and the defense will be that challenge this year. Not to say the unit won’t be good, but with leaders Patrick Chung and Dont’a Hightower choosing to sit out the season, they will be missing some important pieces.

I think Belichick and Co. are happy with this challenge. They’ll have the chance to do some different things with a group that’s suddenly very young. I mention this to say they also have the best and deepest secondary in the NFL. That will certainly help the development of a young front 7 by giving them plenty of time to get after the quarterback.

Sterling Pingree is the senior staff writer for Jeff Solari’s Maine Sports Chowdah newsletter and a co-host of the 3 Point Stance Podcast with NFL veteran Mike DeVito and Aaron Jackson. An avid golfer, Pingree has been a member for more than a decade at Bangor Muni. He is a native of Kingfield and was a 4-year letterman in basketball and baseball at Mount Abram High School.

Sports Chowdah

Sports Chowdah

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports email newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in...