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Bill Belichick addresses current state of Patriots’ quarterback room

New England nears the NFL draft with a depth chart of two at quarterback.

Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Bill Belichick’s March statement on the departure of free agent Tom Brady spanned 267 words.

The New England Patriots head coach, who addressed the media on his pre-draft conference call Monday afternoon, stands by what he wrote then.

“At the start of free agency I made a statement about Tom,” Belichick told reporters. “It would be of course impossible to sum up everything Tom did in 20 years into a comment – then or now. But I meant everything I said about him. I’m sure we’ll be talking about him for years and decades to come. Right now, we are moving forward.”

Regarding New England’s level of interest in retaining Brady, whose contract voided on the first day of the 2020 league year, Belichick reiterated.

“I think that’s water under the bridge,” he said. “We’re really focused on this season and trying to look at our opportunities and make decisions, and plan and prepare to be as competitive as we can be this year.”

Brady will turn 43 during training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in August. And in his absence, Belichick and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels turn to a current quarterback depth chart of two.

Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round pick out of Auburn last spring, is one candidate to take the snaps. Veteran Brian Hoyer, who returns to Foxborough after spending 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts, is alongside him.

The organization released Cody Kessler at the beginning of April.

“We spent quite a bit of time with both Brian and Stid,” Belichick said. “I think Josh and myself certainly have a pretty good feel for both those players. Circumstances will be different this year, and we’ll see how everything plays out. But again, I think the main thing is to give everyone a chance to compete, to get people comfortable with the position and the skills that they’re playing – the communication that’s involved. We’ll evaluate the players as we get an opportunity to evaluate them.”

Stidham made three appearances during his rookie regular season with New England. With Indianapolis, Hoyer appeared in four games and made his 38th career start.

“Whoever the quarterback is, we’ll try to make things work smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths and his skills,” Belichick said. “... I don’t see it being any different – the process – from what it’s ever been. It’s just we know the situation we’re in now is different than the year when we had to plan to play four games without Tom at the start of the season, but he would be back after that. This is a little bit different than that, but it’s along the same lines as we get whoever is the quarterback ready, ready.”

New England holds the rights to a dozen selections in the 2020 draft. The clock is scheduled to tick at No. 23 overall.