With ex-Patriot Aaron Hernandez jailed and charged with murdering a 27-year-old associate, a Dorchester family dealing with that loss, and more skeletons dancing out of the Hernandez closet by the minute, it seems rather trivial to think about Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, and how the team is going to fare in wake of severing all ties with its Pro Bowl tight end.
But, with training camp now less than a month away, questions are already being asked in football circles about the Patriots thanks to Hernandez’ departure, and the significant hole in the offense left in his wake.
Many believe the Pats have become more vulnerable in the AFC East and in general with Brady now missing his three best targets in Wes Welker (in Denver), Rob Gronkowski (in limbo due to back surgery) and Hernandez.

The fear is the offense is going to suffer even more, especially with so many new receivers, and now tight ends, trying to connect and find their way with Brady.
All of the above may prove true. It’s certainly not the prettiest picture, or as Bill Belichick would say, what you’re looking for at this stage. And, there really aren’t any quick fixes out there that will make up for the loss of Hernandez. Free agent Dallas Clark might be the best fit in terms of a reasonable facsimile of Hernandez’ style of tight end, but at age 34, his best playing days are well behind.
As for Gronkowski, who knows when he’ll return? It probably won’t be for the start of the season given typical timetables laid out for his type of back surgery. It would also be extremely foolish for the Pats to panic and rush him back given the added burden they now face without Hernandez.
That’s why many are forecasting a grim outlook with respect to the offense, even with a promising running game to fall back on.