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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Who should be the Patriots’ next quarterback?

Related: Cam Newton says it would be ‘remarkable’ to return to New England

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As the New England Patriots season is now officially over, attention turns to the offseason. The Patriots spent the past few days signing practice squad players to future contracts and should be relatively quiet the next dew weeks. As Bill Belichick said in his end-of-the-year press conference: “I think we can all use a breath of fresh air and a break to get away from things for a period of time.”

That period of time won't last too long, as free agency will begin March 17. The Patriots will have to make numerous decisions before that date with a long list of players set to hit the open market. And while nobody knows what the NFL Draft process will look like this year, round one of the draft will begin April 29th, 10 days after the Patriots begin offseason workouts.

With what should be an interesting and (hopefully) entertaining offseason, the position under the microscope for the Patriots will certainly be the quarterback. With that, let's start this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag:

@iwontsharey0uu in your opinion, who starts at qb in week 1?

My thoughts on who the Patriots will have under center to start next season has flipped no less than 100 times. Everything, and I mean everything, has been thought of from either a new rookie, a bridge-type QB, a proven veteran, and so on. While it’s certainly not my first choice, the name that keeps coming to my mind is former Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo’s stay in San Francisco has certainly taken a turn for the worse. He was the weak link on their Super Bowl roster last season and has struggled to stay on the field this year, while his interception and incompletion percentages have increased. The 49ers could look to move on from the 29-year-old as a result of this, especially as his contract structure allows them to do so with only $2.8 million of dead money.

For New England, it is well documented that Bill Belichick has always loved the quarterback he drafted 62nd overall in the 2014 draft. Again, it's not my first choice, but it seems like the Patriots, and Jimmy G, could be interested in a reunion if given the opportunity.

@PatsFanBen What are the odds the Patriots trade for Jimmy G? If they do, what would it take to get him?

If the Patriots target Garoppolo as the guy for next year and do not want to wait for the 49ers to release him, a trade could be in the cards. It’s worth nothing that Garoppolo structured a no trade clause into his contract, but it seems likely he would waive that for a deal to New England. The trade clause should also weaken Garoppolo’s trade value, as he has final choice over what teams could pull the trigger on a deal.

In a potential trade scenario to New England, the Chicago Bears’ trade for quarterback Nick Foles last offseason could be viewed as a framework. The Bears traded third- and fifth-round draft picks to Jacksonville to acquire Foles, who is a similar age of Garoppolo and was also coming off an injury-riddled season. Perhaps the Patriots will just wait to negotiate with Garoppolo on the open market, but giving up a mid-round selection should be enough to get the 49ers to bite.

@cd_mnez Who should be the starting QB next season? #PostPulpit #GoPats

Reiterating two things: Garoppolo is not my first choice and my mind has flipped on this matter way too many times to count. A rookie quarterback like Zach Wilson or Trey Lance to pair with a bridge-type quarterback would be a great start to this rebuild, while a veteran quarterback like Matt Stafford could put the Patriots back into contention next season. If New England can find a way to get one of the top four quarterbacks in this draft class — Wilson or Lance being the most realistic options — pairing them with a short-term stop-gap option continues to make the most sense for me.

Also, make sure to keep a look out for my exploration of every potential 2021 signal caller for the Patriots, which will be released right here on Pats Pulpit in the next few days.

@jwskinn Fitzmagic to the pats?

As I said, a rookie and short-term veteran would make the most sense in my mind and Fitzpatrick has to be on the list of best bridge quarterbacks available. The gunslinger has played some of his best football the past two years and should be a relatively cheaper option in free agency. Modeling the quarterback room off the Dolphins of late would be a win for New England, as long as the rookie quarterback looks better than Tua Tagovailoa.

@_Mariglenm Would you trade 2021 first, 2020 first(15th pick) and 2020 second round to move up into top 5?

Drafting a rookie quarterback in the first round will most likely require a major trade up for New England, as they have the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The top three consensus quarterbacks in this draft class (Trevor Lawerence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson), will certainly be gone by pick No. 10 and the case could be made for them to be the first three players taken off the board.

If New England does want to trade up that high, that will most likely be what they have to ship out. It could be even more, as the Rams had to trade two firsts, two seconds and two third to move up to No. 1 from No. 15 overall to select Jared Goff in 2016.

Looking at Pats Pulpit’s very own Rich Hill’s trade chart — which has been discussed by head coaches around the league — the Patriots’ first two picks (No. 15 & 47) are valued at 443 points. Based off this chart, the Patriots could package those two for Philadelphia’s No. 6 overall, which is valued at 446 points. A deal like that would make much more sense to me if New England views one of these quarterbacks as a franchise player.

@mthibeault19 Who do u like at WR in FA, feel like Robinson is gonna cost way too much

No matter the quarterback, New England will certainly need an influx of talent at the wide receiver position. With roughly $60 million in projected cap space, adding a player or two through free agency should certainly be in play. However, it appears unlikely New England will express major interest in the big fish (Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay), who will command around $20 million per year.

That brings the attention to the secondary class of receivers. One player who seems to be a great fit for the Patriots offense is Corey Davis. Davis is coming off a career year in Tennessee and could thrive in a Brandon LaFell-type role. He also has had his fair share of success against the Patriots in the past. A Davis deal could cost New England around $10 million per season, a contract we’ll project to be four-years, $50 million.

Some other names to watch in a similar price range: Curtis Samuel (Carolina), Sammy Watkins (Kansas City), Marvin Jones Jr. (Detroit), Nelson Agholor (Las Vegas).

@BostonEvan11 How big is the caserio loss?

The Patriots are about to enter one of their most important offseasons in years, so losing key figures in the front office this offseason isn't ideal. Caserio has been with New England for 20 years and, as Bill Belichick likes to say, wore many hats. Besides from being the de facto GM, Caserio was a part of game-plan meetings, preparation, practice, and even wore a headset on game days — he identified the personal, substitution, and coverage of the defense to relay to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Caserio’s loss will certainly have to be filled by numerous people, starting with assistant director of player personal Dave Ziegler (who is interviewing with the Denver Broncos for their own GM position).

On the contrary, the loss of Caserio could help bring a breath of new life to the Patriots front office. The Patriots have done a great job finding key players in the late rounds of the draft and with undrafted players, but the inability to find cornerstone players in the first and second rounds of the past few drafts (not counting this past year) have been the main catalyst of New England’s most recent struggles. Perhaps a new voice and outlook on things at the top next to Belichick could help turn things around.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered in the next mailbag, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!