Life After Brady: What is Next for the Patriots at Quarterback?

Tom Brady shocked the sports world yesterday with his announcement that he is moving on from New England and presumably signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The 6-time Super Bowl Champion and 3-time MVP leaves behind an unmatched legacy in New England after a dominant 20 year run. While there is plenty of disappointment around New England, the organization has no choice but to move forward with a new plan at Quarterback.

Complicating the situation for the Patriots is a 13.5 million dollar cap-hit stemming from the money that Brady and the Patriots deferred from the salary cap over the years.  With Brady having moved on, the full 13.5 million hits the books and counts towards to the Patriots salary cap.

There are certainly some quarterbacks out there, and some potentially interesting fits, but money will play a large role in any decision. After re-signing Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater and franchise tagging Joe Thuney, the Patriots are short on cap space to address the Quarterback position.

Here are some of the possibilities.  

Jarrett Stidham – The first Quarterback to take a look at is an in-house candidate and one that will cost the Patriots no additional money.  The Patriots selected Jarrett Stidham in the 4th round of the 2019 draft and he is under their control for at least three more years.  At 6-foot-3 and 215-pounds, the 23 year old Stidham has spent a year in Patriots system already and is a very affordable option.  Unfortunately, besides a solid pre-season performance, there is not much NFL tape to go off of when evaluating Stidham. Belichick seems to like Stidham, having praised him during his rookie season, and Stidham’s QB coach Jordan Palmer has already called him a, “franchise quarterback.”  It is important to temper expectations with Stidham, but if the Patriots want to save cap and attempt to stay competitive, Stidham may be their guy. Not to mention, the Patriots have had success before with quarterbacks who were overlooked in the draft.  

Andy Dalton Many significant members of the NFL media including Ian Rapoport have speculated the Patriots potential interest in Andy Dalton.  Dalton, a 32 year old who has spent his whole career as a Cincinnati Bengal, was worked out by Coach Belichick when he was coming out of TCU. Dalton has had an up-and-down career with the Bengals, often times showing potential, but never getting over the hump with an 0-4 career postseason record. Dalton who is still under contract for one more year with the Bengals has become increasingly expendable with the Bengals owning the first overall pick and closing in on Joe Burrow. The one setback with Dalton is the 17 million dollar cap hit that he currently possesses. Peter King of NBC Sports and the MMQB has gone on the record saying he believes Belichick would like to work with Andy Dalton.  It remains to be seen if the Patriots could maneuver the salary cap to bring in Dalton as a bridge quarterback while they develop a young player for the future.

Jameis Winston-
Jameis Winston may very well be the most polarizing quarterback in the NFL. In 2019, Winston led the NFL in passing yards and had the second most passing touchdowns in the league.  Unfortunately, Winston also threw 30 interceptions signaling the first “30 for 30” season in NFL history with more than 30 touchdowns and interceptions.  The potential spots for Winston this offseason have closed up quickly with his former team, the Buccaneers, signing Tom Brady.  There are very few teams still looking for a quarterback and Winston seems like an odd man out this offseason. This leaves him in an interesting situation where he could potentially consider taking a pay cut to come to the Patriots in an attempt to revive his career.  It seems unlikely, but Winston’s talent is undeniable, and his potential is there.  Belichick could theoretically take a chance on Winston on a short term deal where Winston could prove his value and bridge the Patriots to their next quarterback of the future.

Cam Newton – This option seems extremely unlikely, but with Newton and the Panthers seeking a new home for the 30 year old quarterback, it is at least worth mentioning.  Newton has a long history of injuries that eventually forced the Panthers to move on from him and sign Teddy Bridgewater.  The price for Newton in a trade would likely be relatively low as the Panthers do not possess much leverage in negotiating with other teams.  He was once an MVP and a dynamic talent, but he has not seemed to be the same even when he has been ale to get on the field.  The outspoken Newton would be an interesting fit with the Patriots, but at this point his availability is still worth monitoring. Many players have revived their career with the Patriots and Newton could be another option to do so.

Jacoby Brissett– The idea of the Patriots bringing back Jacoby Brissett is one that sounds great in theory.  Brissett was drafted by the Patriots, developed in the system and then traded to the Colts when the Patriots still had Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo.  He was thrust into the starting role for the Colts this past season after Andrew Lucks surprise retirement. Brissett was immediately extended for 2 years and 30 million by the Colts and started the season well, looking like their quarterback moving forward.  As the season went on, Brissett’s performance tailed off and it became increasingly obvious that the Colts would be looking for a new quarterback this offseason.  With the Colts agreeing to terms with Phillip Rivers during the legal tampering period, Brissett immediately became a trade candidate.  There is much familiarity between him and the Patriots and this move would probably make the most sense out of any of the exterior options.  It remains to be seen if the Colts are looking to move him for sure, or if the Patriots would want to take on Brissett’s cap hit, but this is certainly a situation worth monitoring. 

Draft – The New England Patriots will have their own draft pick at a higher spot in the first round then they are used to.  After a first round exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Titans, the Patriots were awarded with the 23rd overall pick in the NFL draft.  The draft is top heavy on quarterbacks with Joe Burrow (LSU) and Tua Tagavailoa (Alabama) expected to go in the top 5, and Justin Herbert (Oregon)Jordan Love (Utah State) and Jacob Eason (Washington) all projected to be first round picks as well.  It is likely that all of those names besides Eason will be off the board before pick 23 so if Belichick is interested in any of them, there is a potential to have to trade up.  Some other options for the Patriots can be found outside of the first round in players like Jake Fromm (Georgia) and Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma).  It seems logical that the Patriots will draft another young quarterback to bring into the system, but what round that may be in remains to be seen.

AP Photo – Rick Osentoski

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