The Patriots have signed quarterback Tom Brady through the 2017 season, keeping him locked up for, most likely, the rest of his career. One of the trickle down effects of this deal is the unforeseen impact on current back-up quarterback Ryan Mallett.
Mallett was drafted directly after Stevan Ridley in the third round of the 2011 draft, a complete discount for a player teams considered to have the best pure arm in the draft. However, off the field character concerns hampered his draft value and the Patriots were all too willing to capitalize.
Mallett stands a third year veteran, coming off his first full season in the league (the lockout ruined his rookie preseason). The number of quarterback hungry teams have declined since 2011 and that would mean Mallett's trade value has declined as well. Fortunately for the Patriots (and Mallett's chances of starting this decade), this years draft has a dearth of talent at the quarterback position, salvaging some trade value.
There are a few franchises undergoing changes and most need quarterbacks. The New York Jets, the Cleveland Browns, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Arizona Cardinals all need quarterbacks, and don't count out the relationship between Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to be unhappy with the growth of Josh Freeman.
Some places don't make sense as the Jets, Chiefs, and Cardinals have so much capital locked up at the quarterback position. Still, Belichick has relationships with Andy Reid (KC), Mike Lombardi (CLE), and Schiano (TB), leaving a few doors open.
The Patriots will most likely be looking for greater than the third round pick they spent on Mallett because his value as a back-up with multiple years in the system would trump anything of less value. However, Mallett's performance in the preseason has been less than stellar, which is why teams aren't waiting outside Belichick's office to make this trade. And while Mallett's multiple seasons in the Patriots franchise has done plenty to help reduce of his pre-draft issues, don't believe that it's inflated his value beyond a second round pick. Until he shows promise on the NFL stage, he won't warrant a higher draft pick.
The best luck for the Patriots would be to show Mallett off during the preseason. Either he "wows" a QB hungry team into paying a second round pick, or he doesn't and the Patriots will keep Mallett as a continuing project at back-up. The Patriots would be more than fine with both options, as they can keep Mallett for one more season and hope he improves enough for another round of trade-bait in 2014.
Additionally, you can be certain the Patriots will deal away Mallett at some point in order to avoid a Brian Hoyer situation. Hoyer was one of the hot ticket quarterbacks, along with Matt Flynn, but was unable to shop around in free agency for a suitor. The Patriots tagged Hoyer with a second round tender, which meant that teams would have to give the Patriots a second pick if they signed him. No one bit and eventually the Patriots wound up cutting him. Not even a compensatory pick for their trouble. You can be sure the Patriots regret not receiving anything for Hoyer and they'll do everything in their power to ensure Mallett has some return, beyond the years of servicw as a back-up quarterback.
In all, Brady's deal essentially closes the door in the Mallett era in New England, although it never really started. Now it's just a matter of how much it will cost another team to get the Mallett era started in a different city.