As the calendar turned from March to April, the New England Patriots still had a comparatively large number of free agents unaccounted for. Among the eight players remaining on the open market to this day also is veteran backup quarterback Brian Hoyer.
Hoyer’s free agency experience has been a quiet one so far, but it seems as if one of New England’s division rivals has now shown some interest: as first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the New York Jets are set to bring Hoyer in for an official visit on Thursday. The visit will be Hoyer’s first since entering the open market last month.
The 35-year-old offers considerable experience — he spent time with eight different teams since joining the league in 2009 and has appeared in 72 games — and is well regarded within the league as a potential mentor for younger players. Given that the Jets are expected to select a quarterback with the second overall pick in this year’s draft, possibly adding Hoyer to fill such a leadership role might be a smart move.
That said, Hoyer himself is coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign.
After beating out youngster Jarrett Stidham for the backup spot behind the Patriots’ new starting quarterback, Cam Newton, Hoyer was asked to take over as QB1 shortly ahead of New England’s road game against the Kansas City Chiefs in October: Newton had tested positive for the Coronavirus pandemic, forcing the team to make a change on short notice before its meeting with the then-reigning world champions.
The game did not go well for Hoyer. He completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 130 yards and an interception interception; he also turned the football over two more times in the red zone when he was sacked as time expired in the first half and later when he lost a fumble. After that giveaway, he was benched in favor of Stidham.
From that point on, Hoyer was relegated to the number three position on the depth chart and declared inactive as a healthy scratch over the final 12 weeks of the season.
Since then, the Patriots have shown little interest in retaining him. They did re-sign Newton on a one-year deal to possibly fill the mentor role himself this year, making Hoyer and expendable commodity. New England also has Stidham and former practice squad passer Jake Dolegala under contract, and remains in the market for some long-term solution at the most important position on the field.
Hoyer, meanwhile, is among eight members of the 2020 Patriots who remain unsigned as of today. Also still on the open market are running back Rex Burkhead, wide receiver Damiere Byrd, offensive linemen Jermaine Eluemunor and James Ferentz, linebackers John Simon and Shilique Calhoun, cornerback Jason McCourty
One big deadline for all of them will be May 3rd. That day is the official end of free agency as defined by the Collective Bargain Agreement, meaning that players signed afterwards will no longer count against the league’s compensatory draft picks formula.