This is hardly a revelation if you've been paying even the tiniest bit of attention toward the Patriots this offseason, but the team faces a steep uphill climb to replace the passing production a year ago, as five of the top six pass-catchers from that 2012 season are no longer with the squad.
The question now becomes, will this revamped receiving corps be able to effectively execute this complicated passing system?
Luckily for the Patriots, some of the new names have been receiving excellent reviews in the offseason, among them Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld.
On "New England Tailgate," Steve DeOssie, is not quite as enamored with Sudfeld as many fans have been, but he is not too concerned that the Patriots passing game will be flying high in 2013.
"I'm not prepared to put a yellow jacket for the Canton Hall of Fame on Sudfeld yet. It was against back-up players with no game planning [against him]," DeOssie said. "But the fact is, Tom Brady is going to throw for 4,500 yards, he's going to get his 28-33 touchdowns, somebody's going to be on the receiving end of it, I don't care who it is. Tom Brady is that good, he will make it happen."
As for the specifics regarding Rob Gronkowski and his return to the team, another question must be pondered: will the Patriots be overzealous in getting him to return to the field?
Fred Smerlas doubts it. After all, previous experience has proven that the prudent method is the correct method.
"No I think the last time when he came here, when he was trying to come back, he pushed too hard and he was lifting with that plate and I think he loosened it a little bit. And it hurt his rehab," Smerlas said. "Now he's about 15 pounds down, they'll wait until he's 100 percent…but I think Gronk will be back by the third game, faster than most people think."
What do you think? Who do you see stepping up among these pass-catching options? Will anything close to the success of the 2012 passing game be replicated? Offer your thoughts in the comment section.