The New England Patriots have the greatest quarterback of all time in the fold, but the team apparently felt as if the depth behind him deserved some attention. The Patriots have therefore brought in a free agent to serve as a backup option behind Tom Brady: as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the club has signed Cody Kessler to its 53-man roster to fill the spot vacated when fullback James Develin was placed on injured reserve.
Kessler originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2016. During his two seasons with the team, the USC product appeared in 12 games — one of which against the Patriots — and finished with a respectable stat-line considering the talent he had around him: Kessler completed 139 of his 218 pass attempts (63.8%) for 1,506 yards as well as six touchdowns and three interceptions.
Despite the promise he showed in Cleveland, the Browns opted to trade Kessler to the Jacksonville Jaguars in March 2018. Originally serving as Blake Bortles’ backup, he was elevated into the starting role in December and fared okay at best: as a starter, he went 64-of-101 (63.4%) for 553 yards with one touchdown and one interception. On top of it, Kessler was sacked 18 times. Unsurprisingly, he was benched in favor of Bortles after four games.
After the season, the Browns released Kessler and he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the fourth-year man failed to earn a backup spot behind Carson Wentz and was let go again during final roster cutdowns after playing only 30 snaps in the preseason. The 26-year-old has been out on the open market ever since, but will now join a Patriots team that has only Jarrett Stidham on its active roster to back up Brady.
Stidham, of course, saw his first in-game action last week when he subbed in for Brady during New England’s 30-14 blowout loss against the New York Jets. The debut did not go swimmingly, though as he was on the field for only four plays before being pulled again in favor of the starter: he completed two passes for 14 yards, was sacked for a 7-yard loss, and finally threw an interception on an overthrow that was returned 64 yards for a touchdown.
Now, Kessler will compete with the fourth-round rookie for the top backup spot behind Brady.