Perhaps the biggest question of this offseason remains unanswered: Who will fill Tom Brady’s shoes in New England?
The Patriots’ options are not all that appealing. The current frontrunner for the job is second-year signal-caller Jarrett Stidham, but many remain unsure of the inexperienced 2019 fourth-round pick’s ability to take over at the helm.
“He was a great backup in my opinion coming out of college at Auburn and had a chance to be developed into a starter,” Todd McShay said of Stidham on “Get Up” on Monday. “But, he’s not ready yet. That is the bottom line. He’s not ready to lead the New England Patriots, in my opinion.”
Stidham, 23, appeared in just three games in his rookie season and completed two of four pass attempts for 14 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
“Now, you go back and you watch him against the Jets, they threw him in that game and he threw an interception,” McShay, an NFL Draft expert, said. “Bill [Belichick] got annoyed and pulled him out and put Tom Brady back in the game. They were up by about 50 points.
“From everyone I talk to in the organization, they are excited about his development. He has so much potential. He is gifted. He’s been through a lot in his life. He’s got some character and some grittiness and some toughness to him.”
Next on the depth chart is 34-year-old veteran Brian Hoyer, whose addition bumped Cody Kessler off the roster. The Patriots were reportedly interested in Kyle Allen before he was dealt to the Redskins on March 23 in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick, a move that seemed to indicate the team was headed for a rebuild year.
That would be a stark departure from the success New England has enjoyed over the past two decades under Brady and head coach Belichick, but the team may not have a choice in light of a number of cap liabilities, including Brady’s parting gift in the form of a $23 million 2020 dead cap hit.
They could still add someone like 32-year-old Andy Dalton via a trade or free agency, but their dearth of cap space will likely preclude them from contending for one of the more prominent free agents like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
Newton earned $16.7 million and Winston earned $20.9 million in 2019.
Another option for the team is to pursue a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft. With the the 23rd-overall pick, however, all the big names like Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert will be long gone. In theory, they have ample draft capital to vie for a blue-chip pick with 12 total picks in next month’s showdown, but the team has not been keen on trading up in the past.
“Brian Hoyer is there and he’s a really good backup, but they are going to have to make a decision on what to do in terms of is it bringing in a veteran like Andy Dalton to kind of send the tide between now and when Stidham is ready, or is it drafting another quarterback that they think can bring competition and potentially out play Stidham at that No. 1 position,” McShay continued. “It is going to be really interesting to see how it all plays out.”