With Brian Hoyer being brought back into the fold earlier this month, the New England Patriots headed into the third phase of their voluntary offseason workouts with four quarterbacks under contract. Hoyer, who served as the number three last season, was added to a group also featuring fellow returnees Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham as well as rookie Mac Jones.
While Hoyer and Stidham have the most experience in the Patriots’ system out of the four, all eyes will be on Newton and Jones this offseason: Newton is the incumbent starter and was re-signed to a one-year pact before the start of free agency; Jones is the future at the position after being selected 15th overall in this year’s draft.
During a media conference call ahead of Thursday’s OTA practice, Bill Belichick was asked about both of them. His initial answer was standard Belichick.
“All the quarterbacks are working hard,” Belichick said about the QBs under contract. “It’s a starting-over process for everybody. Some of them have been here, some of them haven’t. They’ve had various levels of opportunity to work in our offense. But, really, we’re starting everybody at the same point like we always do this time of the year.”
While New England’s head coach did not give some thorough insight into his passers’ development at this point in time, he did eventually talk about both Jones and Newton after all. As for the rookie, he apparently keeps familiarizing himself with New England’s playbook.
“Mac dove into the playbook and continues to do that. Like everybody out there, we all have a lot of things we have to work out and that includes everybody. That’s what he’s doing; that’s what everybody’s doing,” he said.
The highest quarterback ever drafted by Belichick has naturally joined the Patriots with plenty of expectation. It remains to be seen how quickly he will be handed the keys to the team’s offense, though, after having started only 17 games during his college career at the University of Alabama.
Realistically, Newton therefore still appears to have the inside track to earn the starting job.
“Cam’s been here all the way through,” Belichick said about him. “He was here at the beginning and has been a consistent participant. Continues to give us the usual leadership and energy that he brings to the field and to the workouts and to practice. Cam’s very professional and I’m sure that he’ll continue to work hard to do his best out there like he’s always done for us. It’s never been anything but that from the day he got here.”
For the moment, both Newton and Jones will have to share reps with the other passers under contract. Belichick also briefly mentioned them by name, with Hoyer’s experience and Stidham’s inconsistent opportunities coming up.
“At this point in time, we feel like all those players are good players. Brian has the most experience and Cam had a lot of experience from last year and Jarrett’s had some off and on opportunities but he’ll continue to get opportunities and so will Mac,” he said.
“We’ll just see how it goes.”