For the past two decades, the New England Patriots’ quarterback position was in the safe hands of Tom Brady: the future Hall of Famer won six Super Bowl titles with the clubs while leading some of the most productive offenses the league has ever seen. With the 42-year-old leaving the Patriots in free agency and taking over as the new starter in Tampa Bay, however, the organization will have to find an heir between now and September.
The favorite, at the moment, is second-year passer Jarrett Stidham. New England drafted the Auburn product in the fourth round last offseason and he quickly climbed up the depth chart to earn the number two role behind Brady following strong performances during training camp and the preseason. His regular season playing time was limited — the rookie attempted a mere four passes — but Stidham did impress the teams behind the scenes.
Now, the starting job appears to be his to lose not even six months before the 2020 regular season is scheduled to be kicked off. If Stidham indeed earns it and lines up under center for New England on opening day, he will have the support of his team’s fan base behind him: a majority of Patriots fans is in favor of the 23-year-old eventually becoming Tom Brady’s successor, as the results of SB Nation’s latest FanPulse survey attest.
Participants were asked who they would want to see take over for Brady this season, and Stidham was their clear-cut choice: he received 68.1 percent of the votes, followed by the broad category of “draft pick” and recently released Cam Newton receiving 5.6 and 4.2 percent, respectively. Based on the offseason so far, and the team signing veteran Brian Hoyer over the weekend, it seems as if those 68 percent will get their wish.
While there is still time for the Patriots to add further layers of depth to their quarterback depth chart either through free agency, the trade market or the draft, Stidham is the front-runner at the moment. And fans are apparently happy to see this.
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