Every team in the NFL will have some tough decisions to make when it comes time to cut their rosters down to 53 ahead of Week 1 of the 2021 regular season, and the New England Patriots are no exception.
There will likely be some eye-opening releases at multiple positions, but as usual, all eyes will be on what Bill Belichick decides to do at quarterback. The Patriots have four quarterbacks under contract as minicamp has come to an end, but there is a belief the team will only carry three on the 53-man roster.
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Alex Barth sees Jarrett Stidham as the third QB, but also considers him “on bubble watch.”
Stidham, running back J.J. Taylor and linebacker Anfernee Jennings were the last three players Barth included on his 53-man-roster prediction.
Why Brian Hoyer Could Edge Stidham?
When Hoyer re-signed with the Patriots last month, he did so with the understanding he’d be the mentor for Mac Jones, and further support for incumbent starter Cam Newton.
While not being in serious contention to become the team’s starter might sound like a negative, Hoyer’s experience in the Patriots’ system and his willingness to embrace a mentor role with Jones might have given him more job security than Stidham.
Steven Atkinson of Believe in Boston Sports thinks Hoyer will serve as Jones’ mentor throughout his rookie season. Atkinson wrote:
He knows the system inside and out. He is a pocket passer himself which would benefit Jones in his development. We will see during minicamp and training camp Hoyer working closely with Jones. Newton being a totally different quarterback than Hoyer and Jones can teach Jones about leadership. Hoyer has been in the league for a long time and was Tom Brady’s backup from 2009-2011. He then was on the team in 2017 and 2018. He brings familiarity and probably realizes he won’t be playing. If the Patriots do cut Hoyer in camp they might keep him on as a coach or advisor. Jones who had a good rookie minicamp should do well with Hoyer mentoring him. Jones is the future of the franchise and needs all the coaching mentorship he can get. People don’t think he’s going to replace Newton, they think he’s replacing Brady. Nobody will ever be Brady. But, Jones with the right coaching and players around him teaching him the ropes, he should make out well.
At 24 years old, Stidham isn’t anyone’s mentor. He’s at a stage in his career where he should be starting or accepting something of a career backup archetype.
The Patriots have two seasoned veterans and a rookie who has been tagged as the team’s QB of the future. Therefore, they don’t have much room on their roster for a 24-year-old career backup. If for some reason Newton isn’t able to play or has fallen off, and Jones still isn’t quite ready to start, Hoyer seems like a more logical guy to turn to for the Patriots.
That’s a sad situation to fathom for Patriots fans and Stidham.
Could Cam Newton Be the Odd Man Out?
It seems highly unlikely Newton won’t be on the Patriots’ roster heading into Week 1. He is still the favorite to be the starter over Jones and Stidham, per Odds Checker.
The only way it makes sense Newton doesn’t make the team is if he suffers some sort of injury that keeps him off the field through training camp and the preseason. It’s not practical to believe he will show such regression or stagnation that would lead to Jones or Stidham passing him on the depth chart purely based on performance.
Jones doesn’t have the physical gifts to compensate for his inexperience. He needs more time, and if Stidham had it in him to best Newton, he would have done it already.
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