Tom Brady has left the Patriots and it feels like the world is upside down. I think everyone was at least a little shocked to see the greatest QB of all time leave the only team he's ever known. Especially for a small market, mediocre (sorry Tampa fans) team that is still somewhat in a rebuild phase. However, I'm writing to talk about where the Patriots go moving forward without their Quarterback. First and foremost, the Patriots need to add a QB because they only have 2 on the roster. 2019 4th rounder Jarrett Stidham had his moments in extremely limited action but is still an unknown. They also have Cody Kessler who has been somewhat of a journeyman that teams bring in to backup an established starter. For what it’s worth, the Patriots staff have expressed confidence in Stidham and are pleased with his development to this point, but plenty are skeptical of his potential.
There are 3 ways the Patriots can go about acquiring another Quarterback. Option 1 is to add through the draft as they’ve done in the past. There are many ways they can go about drafting a QB. They can go extremely out of character and trade up to get one of the top 4 guys like a Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, or Jordan Love. Lets just assume there’s no way in hell Cincinnati doesn’t take Joe Burrow at #1 overall. To get Tua, they would likely have to trade up to the number 2 pick to ensure they don’t get jumped by Miami or someone else. I highly doubt Bill Belichick would be willing to make such a leap. So that leaves Herbert and Love. Again, to ensure they get their guy, whichever one it may be, it likely means a move into the top 10, probably up to number 5 to leapfrog the Chargers. I still don’t think Belichick is willing to make that trade.
Another option is to stay at pick #22 and see who falls into their lap. Some candidates here include Washington’s Jacob Eason, and the prospect that has been most often linked to the Patriots, Georgia’s Jake Fromm. The problem with this scenario is, does either one of them really deserve to get drafted this high? Frankly, I don’t think so and many in the scouting world would agree. What the Patriots could look to do (and history suggests there’s a good chance) is trade back and acquire more picks later in the draft. I don’t think Eason or Fromm makes it out of the top 50 picks and the Pats currently don’t have a 2nd rounder. Belichick has shown willingness to wheel and deal and I think he would gladly give up #22 to get a couple 2nd rounders or a late 1st and a 3rd or 4th. If the Patriots elect to draft a QB, this is the most likely scenario in my estimation.
Option number 2 is to sign a QB in free agency. Rumors have a weird way of coming to fruition in free agency and the one name I hear most often associated with the Patriots QB room is Andy Dalton, the former Bengals signal caller. On paper, it makes a lot of sense. Dalton had a ton of success in his career with Marvin Lewis as his head coach but struggled with new HC Zach Taylor in 2019. The whole team struggled in fact, ending up with a 2-14 record. They locked up the #1 pick and all signs point to Joe Burrow being the guy that walks across the stage first. So Dalton, at 32 years old is a free agent, has a good amount left in the tank, and has shown ability to lead a team to the playoffs. Makes sense.
Another option that doesn’t make a ton of sense is Jameis Winston, the QB Tom Brady will be replacing in Tampa Bay. Winston is everything Bill Belichick does not want from his QB. Winston is a questionable decision maker at best, loves to air it out deep, and most importantly, turns the ball over a TON. But what he does have is a plus arm, leadership, experience, and a lot of time left in his career. It doesn’t make sense at all but if anyone can make it work its Belichick and OC Josh McDaniels.
An incredibly intriguing option is Taysom Hill, the do it all utility player from the Saints who returns kicks, blocks punts, plays receiver, and also plays a little QB. Hill is 29 and has only thrown 15 passes in his career but he is an athletic marvel with his size and speed. Saints coach Shawn Payton has talked up Hill as a franchise level QB but there is simply no evidence at this point. He is a restricted free agent so the Saints would get a draft pick if the Patriots were to sign him. This feels like a player the Patriots would absolutely love to have, just not playing QB. It would be very interesting to see what he could do in New England and if they make this move, I have to believe he’d get his first opportunity at QB. Maybe the Pats take a chance and bet that he will contribute enough to part with a draft pick no matter which position he plays.
Option number 3 is to trade for a QB under contract with another team. I’m not sure the Patriots value anyone out there very highly, but it’s worthwhile to look at options. The big one is Cam Newton who was “given permission to seek a trade” by the Panthers. Cam was not happy about the wording of this at all claiming he never asked to be traded and wanted to stay in Carolina. Be that as it may, I highly doubt he is back in Carolina now, especially after the team signed Teddy Bridgewater to a 3 year, $63M contract. Newton has been in contact with the Chicago Bears and that feels like his most likely landing spot. On the other hand, the Patriots could lure Cam to Foxborough with their winning history, an offense that would take a ton of pressure off Newton, and the league’s top defense from last season. Price tag and injury history are the likely concerns on the Patriots side, but I could see them giving Cam a decent offer.
Another option is a familiar face that could come back and step right in as the Day 1 starter. The Colts no longer need Jacoby Brissett after signing Philip Rivers so this could be the perfect match. The Patriots have welcomed players back after trading them or losing them to free agency in the past and this could be another case that works out in their favor. He knows McDaniels’ system and has experience as a starter. However, it would be a stretch to say he was anything more than average. The fanbase and the team itself will not accept an average team but maybe they can get more out of Brissett than the Colts did. The Patriots would have to test the waters for him and decide what they’re willing to part with to make the trade with Indy. Belichick likely wouldn’t make a deal worth anything more than a 3rd round pick because he would rather take his chances in the Draft.
Joe Flacco has been rumored to be on the market as well, but he seemed to be on his last legs this year with the Broncos and I doubt he will draw much interest. Case Keenum had one good season in Minnesota but has since been below average. He looks to be a backup option from now on. Tyrod Taylor of the Chargers likely will be kept around by the team as a bridge/mentor for someone they draft in the top 10 this year. If he is on the market, he could do the same for the Patriots, starting until someone else is ready whether that be Stidham or a new Draftee.
All in all, I think a lot of Patriots fans would want to bring in Andy Dalton to give the team a chance to win the division once again. The Patriots have been in “win now mode” for the last 20 years and Boston is not ready to start a rebuild. This seems to be the most efficient thing to do right now because they have a young guy in Stidham on the roster with potential, but he could use some more seasoning. Dalton can lead for as long as 2-3 years and give the Pats a chance at playoffs while they work on the long term solution at the position. It might be Stidham, it might be someone else, but it should be someone they expect to be the face of the franchise for the next 10 years. Just don't expect another Brady. There will only be one GOAT.
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