One year after facing some major questions at the game’s most important position, the New England Patriots entered the offseason in a much more comfortable position. After finding a likely longer-term solution at the starting quarterback spot in the form of 2021 first-round draft pick Mac Jones, they only needed to make a decision about his backup.
That decision was made on Monday: Brian Hoyer is set to return to stay with the team on a reported two-year, $4 million contract. What does the move mean for the team, though? Let’s find out.
Mac Jones keeps his mentor
While providing depth behind the starter is the main responsibility of a backup quarterback, Hoyer played a more prominent role for the Patriots in 2021. He also served as a mentor for rookie Mac Jones, helping him move from the college level to the NFL.
Jones spoke highly of the impact the 36-year-old had on his early career.
“He’s super supportive of me and trying to help me in any way he can,” Jones said about Hoyer in October. “He’s hard on me sometimes, which is good, so he holds me to a high standard. He also has fun and enjoys the game.
“He’s been around for a long time ... and Brian is just a great example of a great team leader and a great team player, and if he ever needs to get in there, I know he’s going to do a great job. He’s always ready, and I’m just happy to be able to learn from him and just be in the same room as him.”
Hoyer only appeared in five games in 2021, going 9-for-11 as a passer for 227 yards as well as a touchdown. However, his impact on the Patriots and their young QB cannot be underestimated.
The quarterback room stays intact, for now
With Hoyer back in the fold, the Patriots have their entire 2021 quarterback room under contract for another season. Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer are joined by fourth-year man Jarrett Stidham, who served as the third option behind the two after starting the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Change might be coming sooner rather than later, though. Stidham, after all, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and might be a candidate to be moved via trade.
Trying to trade the former fourth-round draft pick to a quarterback-needy team — possibly one with Patriots connections such as Houston or Las Vegas — would make sense from New England’s perspective: with Hoyer back, Stidham enters 2022 as the third option on the depth chart and no real room to move up.
The Patriots parting ways with the 25-year-old at one point between now and the draft in late April would not be a surprise.
The position could still be addressed in the draft
Even with Hoyer re-signed and Jarrett Stidham under contract for another season, the Patriots might want to invest a late-round draft selection in a quarterback. Hoyer, after all, is on the back nine of his career and despite signing a two-year pact not guaranteed to actually stay with the team in 2023.
Adding another young passer to the pipeline to develop as a backup behind Jones and — at least initially — Hoyer would be smart move. Because the position is so much more valuable than any other on the field, drafting QBs on a regular basis is a sound approach to roster construction.