The team currently has 91 players under contract, but only 53 of them will be able to survive roster cutdowns in early September and ultimately make the active team. Over the course of spring and summer, just like we have in years past, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots bounce back from what was a disappointing 7-9 season last year.
Today, the series kicks continues with quarterback Brian Hoyer
Name: Brian Hoyer
Jersey number: TBD
Opening day age: 35
Size: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds
Contract status*: Under contract through 2021 (2022 UFA)
What is his experience? Hoyer originally entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent signing by the Patriots in 2009. He was able to earn the backup quarterback spot behind Tom Brady in Year One and spent the first three seasons of his career in New England behind the future Hall Of Famer. Following his release in favor of second-year passer Ryan Mallett in 2012, Hoyer spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals before eventually joining the Cleveland Browns in 2013.
He started 16 games for the team over a two-year stretch — going 10-6 along the way — and joined the Houston Texans in 2015. One year later, Hoyer signed with the Chicago Bears before eventually arriving in New England again in 2017 via a half-season stint with the San Francisco 49ers. He earned a Super Bowl ring during his second stint with the Patriots, but was let go again in 2019 after losing the QB2 spot to Jarrett Stidham. After one year with the Indianapolis Colts, Hoyer returned to New England in 2020.
All in all, the veteran has been in the NFL for 12 seasons and has appeared in 70 regular season games and two playoff contests while spending time with eight different teams. He has 39 starts on his résumé, including one with the Patriots.
What did his 2020 season look like? On the same day they signed Philip Rivers in free agency, the Colts decided to part ways with Brian Hoyer. It did not take him long to find a new home, however: four days after his release, the veteran quarterback returned to New England for a third time — signing a one-year, $1.05 million contract with the team that allowed him to compete for a roster spot against second-year passer Jarrett Stidham and, later on, fellow free agent addition Cam Newton.
Hoyer eventually earned the number two spot on the quarterback depth chart behind Newton, and was active for each of the Patriots’ first three games of the former league MVP’s backup. After not seeing any playing time through Week 3, Hoyer was elevated to the starting position ahead of New England’s road game against the Kansas City Chiefs: 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 also threw 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.
What is his projected role? The Patriots re-signed Hoyer following a two-month stint on the open market, but the expectation is that he will not compete for the starting role. Instead, it seems likely that he will serve as a camp arm as well as a well-respected presence in a quarterback room also consisting of fellow veteran Cam Newton as well as youngsters Mac Jones and Jarrett Stidham. Realistically, Hoyer will see minimal to no playing time during the 2021 season — if he even makes the 53-man squad.
What is his special teams value? While he does have one special teams snap on his NFL résumé, Hoyer’s kicking game value is like that of any other quarterback: non-existent. While he could serve as a backup holder on field goal or extra point attempts in case punter/holder Jake Bailey gets injured, the expectation is that he will finish the 2021 season just like 11 of his other 12 and not see any playing time in the game’s third phase.
Does he have positional versatility? Hoyer’s official stat sheet has him down with a combined 107 regular season and playoff rushing attempts, but most of those were kneel-downs. He simply lacks the athletic skillset to do anything more than play quarterback, which in turn means that his positional versatility looks a lot like his special teams value: it should not be counted on. Hoyer offers experience at QB, but nothing more.
What is his salary cap situation? The Patriots re-signed Hoyer earlier in May, and while the details of the contract are not yet known the expectation is that it will look similar to the one he was given last year: in 2020, Hoyer signed a one-year pact with a salary cap hit of $1.05 million and no guarantees. Given his uncertain standing on the team, a similar structure would make the most sense for both parties while only slightly increasing the cap hit (to $1.08 million)
What is his roster outlook? Just like the last few years, Hoyer is not guaranteed a spot on the Patriots’ roster. Given his experience in the system and noted leadership, however, he will likely play a valuable role during the offseason: he will serve as a fourth quarterback behind Cam Newton, Mac Jones and Jarrett Stidham and offer guidance to first-round pick Jones in particular. Unless he beats out Stidham for the backup role behind projected starter Newton, though, his stint is likely to come to an end on roster cutdown day.