The New England Patriots currently have three quarterbacks on their roster, which is one more than some teams will carry throughout the entire season. However, most teams that carry two, or even three quarterbacks, have a more established player in the QB1 spot.
For the first time in almost 20 years, that’s not the case in New England.
Tom Brady is Gone, And That Still Takes Getting Used To
Tom Brady took his six Super Bowl rings and 20 years of tenure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and there are some hardcore Patriots/TB12 fans who are still reeling from the news.
But whether they’re ready for it or not, the QB situation in New England is in an indeterminate state for the first time in two decades. Is it in good hands?
Jarrett Stidham Was Drafted to Be His Replacement in 2019
When Jarrett Stidham was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick was likely certain, he was bringing in Brady’s replacement. Stidham had a disappointing junior season at Auburn after transferring to the school from Baylor. However, he had very high grades from many scouts who praised his arm, mechanics, intelligence and work ethic.
He shined during the 2019 preseason, despite some drops from marginal receivers, and that performance likely served to make Belichick more comfortable moving forward with Stidham as his QB of the future. Evan Lazar of CLNS has some great footage of Stidham’s preseason throws:
Even still, he is a 24-year-old with four career passes, and that isn’t the most stable situation.
Brian Hoyer Was Signed for a Third Time, To Be Stidham’s Mentor and Backup
The now three-time Patriot is back in the fold, but don’t get it twisted, Brian Hoyer wasn’t signed to be the starter, or to even compete with Stidham. He was brought in as a veteran with expert knowledge of Josh McDaniels’ offense, who can help get Stidham, and every other QB more comfortable with the system in position meetings.
In the case of an emergency, Hoyer can play and be competitive, but he is a clear Plan B, at best.
Cody Kessler is a Holdover, There for Depth
The third QB is Cody Kessler.
He’ll be 27 when the 2020 season starts, and he’s an undersized QB (6’1″) with 12 starts under his belt, and a 2-10 QB record in those games, which granted, came playing for bad teams in Cleveland and Jacksonville. Still, there is no reason to believe he’ll see any playing time during the regular season, but he is on the roster.
He’s a standard QB3 and could be enough for the Patriots to sit tight at the position. However, for the right guy, the team could go with four QBs on the roster heading into training camp.
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Patriots Aren’t Seemingly Interested in Cam Newton, or Anyone Else Expecting to Start
At this point, it seems the chances of the Patriots signing or dealing for another veteran QB are slim. The team seems set on moving into the 2020 season with Stidham as the No. 1 guy, and it would probably be counterproductive to bring in a veteran like the recently released Cam Newton who will almost certainly expect to start.
The team invested a fourth-round selection in Stidham, and it would be wasteful not to give him an opportunity.
A Rookie QB is Very Possible, But Probably Not Early in the First Round
If the Patriots bring in a fourth QB, it will almost certainly be a rookie from this year’s draft. While the team may believe in Stidham, he still hasn’t proven anything on the field, and thus the jury is still out on his ability to lead the team moving into the post-Brady era.
It wouldn’t be unwise, or un-Belichick like for the team to select another young QB in the middle rounds who could be learning and developing in the same QB meetings with Stidham, Hoyer, Kessler, and McDaniels.
The Patriots have the No. 23 pick, but it would be a shock to see them draft a QB there considering the voids they have at linebacker, wide receiver, tight end and on the offensive line. The team can still find a promising player from rounds 3-5.
This young signal-caller could provide insurance in the event Stidham falters or is injured. If Stidham takes the bull by the horns and establishes himself, the QB the Pats select in the 2020 draft could become a trade asset into the future.
Remember, the Patriots traded Jimmy Garropolo to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 for a second-round pick that the team ultimately flipped into several spin-off selections in the following years. We could be looking at the genesis of another one of those scenarios.