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2020 NFL free agency: Brian Hoyer reportedly open to returning to the Patriots after getting released by the Colts

Related: How will the Patriots try to fill Tom Brady’s shoes?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With Tom Brady now officially a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New England Patriots will have to find a new starting quarterback. At the moment, the job appears to be Jarrett Stidham’s to lose after he showed plenty of promise over the course of his first year in the NFL. The 23-year-old remains a bit of a wildcard, though, and his potential can only be projected after he attempted a mere four passes during the regular season.

Stidham’s development will be critical, and the Patriots — if they indeed see him as Brady’s heir — need to help him as best they can to take the famed second-year jump and be ready to take over the offense in Year Two. Surrounding him with experienced talent will be part of this process, but not just at the skill positions but in the quarterback room as well. Luckily for New England, one veteran option at the position recently became available.

The Indianapolis Colts announced on Saturday that they have parted ways with veteran quarterback and ex-Patriot Brian Hoyer. The move did not come unexpected after the team signed long-time San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to a one-year, $25 million contract in free agency. With Jacoby Brissett also still in the fold, Indianapolis decided to release Hoyer before a $2 million roster bonus was due.

Now that he has entered the open market, the 34-year-old is immediately free to join any team without it having to keep the compensatory draft picks formula in mind (Hoyer does not factor in due to him getting released and not hitting free agency off an expiring contract). And according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, he would be “open” to returning to his old stomping grounds and to re-joining the Patriots as a potential backup quarterback.

Such a role would be nothing new for Hoyer. After all, he served as Brady’s backup between entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2009 and his release in favor of Ryan Mallett ahead of the 2012 season. Five years later, the Michigan State product returned to New England to fill the void created by Jimmy Garoppolo getting traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Hoyer won his first Super Bowl ring during his second stint with the club, but once again was let go in favor of a promising youngster shortly thereafter.

The Patriots were interested in bringing the veteran back into the fold after his release at least year’s roster cutdown deadline, but he instead opted to take his talents to Indianapolis — his eighth team since joining the NFL. Hoyer was the Colts’ number two behind Brissett in 2019 and ended the season with four in-game appearances and one start, while completing 35 of 65 pass attempts for 372 yards as well as four touchdowns and four interceptions.

His performance was not enough for the Colts to keep him around after adding Rivers, however, which now makes him a potential player for the Patriots to bring on board.

A reunion would certainly make sense for both parties: Hoyer would return to a familiar environment, while also getting the opportunity to compete for a backup spot yet again. New England, meanwhile, would add an experienced and well-respected passer to assist Stidham and fellow QB Cody Kessler off the field and behind the scenes. Hoyer potentially joining the Patriots for a third time therefore might be a win-win for both parties.