And even though the NFL is in a lockout, the odds are strong that there will be a season in the fall. There will definitely be a draft, which starts April 28 in prime time.
That’s where the rich — the Patriots — figure to get a lot richer.
The Patriots were 14-2 last season. They aren’t perfect, by any stretch, but when you have a core of Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski on offense, and Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Devin McCourty on defense, with Mike Wright, Ty Warren, and Leigh Bodden ready to come back from injuries, you are in a good spot.
And the Patriots have six of the draft’s first 92 picks, with two selections in each of the first three rounds, and nine overall picks.
It’s enough to make some of the Patriots’ divisional foes feel the mountain they have to scale to topple the kings is approaching Everest proportions.
All Dolphins coach Tony Sparano could do was shake his head even before the question was finished.
“Look, we all compete within the division, there’s no question about it, and we all keep an eye on what everybody else is doing,’’ said Sparano, whose team went 7-9 last season. “So I think with the number of picks that they have and the ways to improve their football team with young players through the draft — which is really the way, they’ve done a great job of that — it becomes a little bit, from our end, competitive in that we know what we have and we know what they have from a pick standpoint and we have to try to continue to compete.
“We have to do the best job we can with what we have to be able to compete with those people. But they certainly have the opportunity to make their team better with the number of picks that they have.’’
Chan Gailey, whose Bills were 4-12, chose to have fun with the Patriots’ embarrassment of riches.
“They’re probably unbeatable,’’ he said. “Probably go undefeated for three, four straight years.’’
And then he made an important point.
“Hey, they’ve got to get it right, they have to stay healthy,’’ Gailey said. “They’re just like everybody else. You have to do everything just as right as you can do it and keep trying to win.