No position on an NFL team is as closely tied to winning and losing as quarterback. Look no further than the 2020 NFL playoffs as proof of that: you had a rising young star (Buffalo’s Josh Allen), the reigning Super Bowl MVP (Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes), the soon-to-be-voted league MVP (Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers) and the greatest of all time (Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady) leading their respective teams to the final four.
The New England Patriots and their starting quarterback, Cam Newton, on the other hand, were long eliminated at that point. With Newton at the helm, New England went just 7-9 while missing the postseason tournament for the first time in 12 years.
Not all of the blame for the Patriots’ issues falls solely ob the QB’s shoulders, but his play did not inspire much confidence about the organization’s post-Tom Brady era either. Accordingly, New England is very much in the market for a new quarterback and a long-time solution at the most important position on the field.
So, what will the team do? Draft a quarterback? Sign one in free agency? Swing a trade? Time will tell, but according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss all options are on the table as he said on the air on Monday morning:
There is no surefire answer for the Patriots. Here is how someone in the organization explained it to me. They said, ‘We’re going to do what we always do, explore every option.’ Could be the draft, could be free agency, could be trades. And they feel like they’re in a good financial position with the salary cap that if the right opportunity presents itself that they can pounce.
New England currently only has backup Jarrett Stidham and former practice squad member Jake Dolegala under contract for 2021, with both Newton and veteran Brian Hoyer headed for free agency. Bringing one or both of them back into the fold to offer depth alongside potential other acquisitions is still on the table, but the team is still expected to explore all avenues — in part due to the $64 million it is projected to be under the salary cap.
While the Patriots are in a comfortable financial situation, the timeline is a tricky one for them as Reiss pointed out:
There is one other thought from those around this situation that timing is important for them to get a quarterback for the start of free agency, so if they’re out recruiting a top receiver or a top tight end that player knows who might be throwing them the football. So, that aspect is part of this conversation as well.
Free agents will likely not line up to play with Stidham or Dolegala, so New England will have to either invest the financial means to convince top-tier talent to come aboard or have a viable QB option available. How that will look like is up in the air now with numerous options possibly available.
All we do know at the time being is that the Patriots will add to their current position depth chart, and that they will do what they are always doing: try to find the best players available no matter the avenue it will take to bring them aboard.