A few minutes ago, we discussed the news that Patriots restricted free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer had been given the 2nd round tender. As we said, Hoyer is widely regarded around the league as a future starting quarterback, so assigning him a tender at the 2nd round level certainly leaves the door open for another team to sign him to an offer sheet.
The news especially surprised Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald:
My thought over the past few weeks is that the Patriots would tender backup QB Brian Hoyer at a first-round level, a hefty price for another team to pay for the restricted free agent. And again yesterday, I was told that the Pats love Hoyer and would hate to lose him for just a second rounder.
Now, their backup is vulnerable. In a QB-driven league, would an opponent pay a second for Hoyer? I think it's possible. The Patriots could match any offer, and perhaps they feel confident enough to do that. Hoyer does have little to show for three years in the NFL, so maybe the Patriots rate him higher than others.
It seems that this news genuinely surprised Rapoport, and I find it intriguing that Rapoport has heard the Patriots value Hoyer so highly.
But here's my thing: even if the Patriots did ensure that Hoyer stays in 2012 by giving him the 1st round tender, wouldn't he still be likely to walk when he's a restricted free agent after the season?
For more than a year, I've said that I believe that Brian Hoyer would make the ideal "post-Tom Brady" quarterback solution. I just love the way he hangs in the pocket, shows poise, can make all the throws, and has shown the ability to make good decisions (albeit with a small number of snaps to evaluate). But I just don't see any scenario where the Patriots pay big bucks to keep him around in 2013 and 2014 while Tom Brady plays out the final years of his contract. Unfortunately for Hoyer, the timing just wasn't there for him to be the quarterback of the future.
That's why I agree with the Patriots decision to tender Hoyer at the second round level. If he leaves after the 2012 season, which is more than likely, then the Patriots don't get any real value for him (maybe a compensatory pick in 2014), although they get an extra year of having him around as a reliable back-up. However, if he signs an offer sheet with another NFL team and the Patriots collect a second round pick, the Patriots actually walk away from the situation with something valuable.
While, as Rapoport reports, the team may not want to lose Hoyer for "just a second round pick," it's better than losing him for nothing. The team likely realized that getting anything more than a 2nd round pick was unrealistic, and now they have a chance to either get something in return for losing their back-up, or have him return at a slightly cheaper price.