According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, the Patriots may stand pat if Brady bolts New England. In other words, they’ll stick with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham and veteran backup Cody Kessler at first.
Reiss does mention that the Patriots could allow the veteran quarterback market to settle before looking for a lower-priced option at a later date. With that being said, Reiss paints the picture that the Patriots wouldn’t make an immediate move in the scenario of Brady’s departure.
If Brady departs in free agency, my opinion is that the Patriots’ most likely approach would be to initially stand pat at quarterback and roll with Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler, before letting the veteran quarterback market settle and then possibly looking for a lower-priced option at a later date. It would be a chance for a financial reset, with Stidham set to earn a base salary of $585,000, Kessler at $820,000, and the team having about $29 million in cap space to devote to other positions of need.
This is a bit surprising considering there are a plethora of veteran quarterbacks on the free agent market. That includes current and former starters in players such as Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater.
At the same time, it isn’t exactly surprising because Bill Belichick is well-known for pinching pennies when it comes to contracts.
With that being said, if you’re a Patriots fan, this isn’t exactly flattering news. You basically enter the offseason with the potential of losing the best quarterback of all time and then having Stidham take over as the franchise quarterback.
That’s a less-than-ideal situation to say the least.
Patriots Targeting Taysom Hill?
The Patriots could have another quarterback in mind — it’s just not the quarterback you’d expect.
“(Sean) Payton told NBC Sports’ Peter King that he believes a team will attempt to sign Hill to a restricted free-agent contract this offseason. If a team does, the Saints can match it. The team to watch is the Patriots, who may make a run at Hill whether Tom Brady returns or not,” Freeman wrote.
Hill Wants to Be Franchise Quarterback
Despite being the Saints’ third-string quarterback and a 29-year-old who has thrown just 16 passes in his career, Hill is a highly-coveted quarterback. In fact, he is thought of so highly that the Saints envision Hill becoming their franchise quarterback once Drew Brees retires.
Via Mike Florio of NBC Sports:
As one source explained it to PFT, the Saints wants Brees back for what would essentially become a transition year, from Brees to Taysom Hill with Hill becoming the starter in 2021. Even if Brees comes back, Hill will be used much more extensively as part of the team’s offense in 2020 — especially in light of some private regret that, if Hill had been utilized just a little bit more in the wild-card loss to the Vikings, the Saints quite likely would have won the game.
Hill may have limited experience throwing the ball in actual games, but he is as versatile of a threat as you will find at the quarterback position in the NFL. The fourth-year player ran 27 times for 156 yards and a touchdown on 5.8 yards per carry last season. He also caught 19 passes for 234 yards and six touchdowns.
He also had a quality effort in the Saints’ Wild Card playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He completed a pass for 50 yards, ran four times for 50 yards and caught two passes for 25 yards and a touchdown.
In fact, as noted by Florio, the prevailing thought was that if the Saints had utilized Hill more, they would have won the game.
The question is, how would New England utilize Hill? Would they choose to make him a starter or use him the way New Orleans has over the past couple of years?
The Patriots have a classic type of offense. That means Belichick prefers pocket passers over the new trend of mobile quarterbacks. Hill fits into the latter category far more than the former.
It’s also worth mentioning that Hill sees himself as a starting quarterback. In fact, he recently stated during an interview that if the Saints don’t see him as a starter, he’ll move on from them.
“I definitely view myself as a franchise quarterback,” Hill told Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press in a podcast interview that has made the rounds this week. “Is it New Orleans? Is it somewhere else?”
“As you get to free agency, there’s no denying that I loved my time in New Orleans,” Hill said. “Do I want to leave? The fact of the matter is, no. But as you look at free agency, you have to find the right opportunities for you. I want to play quarterback in this league, and if New Orleans doesn’t view me that way, then I have to leave.”
Because Hill is a restricted free agent, the Saints have the right to match any offer that comes his way. If they lose him, they also receive draft pick compensation.
We’ll obviously pay attention to what transpires with Brady’s future in New England, but it appears that Belichick has his sights set on Hill this offseason — regardless of where Brady ends up.