The New England Patriots’ quarterback search will undoubtably be the team’s biggest storyline of the offseason. There obviously is more than one way to address the position, though, and one potential path for the Patriots is to draft a passer with the intention of preparing him for a starting role in the future while also signing a veteran to serve as his mentor.
There will be quite a few candidates available for that second role, even if in-house quarterbacks Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer are not re-signed in free agency. Pro Football Focus has identified three potential candidates to land in New England this year:
Prediction: Sign a free agent such as Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett or Mitchell Trubisky
If the top five quarterbacks are off the board by the time New England picks at No. 15, the best bet would be to call 2021 a loss and pursue Spencer Rattler in 2022. That, however, is not the Patriot Way. I assume Bill Belichick and company would go after one of the free agents available, such as Dalton, Brissett or Trubisky. Dalton would be the best choice at that point, as neither Brissett nor Trubisky has eclipsed a single-season 70.0 PFF grade as starters for their respective teams.
Dalton ranked 23rd in PFF grade in 2020 with Dallas. He failed to create many big-time throws (32nd by rate), but he limited bad throws, too. He posted the 10th-best negatively graded throw rate and delivered an accurate ball with the fifth-highest accurate pass rate on passes beyond the line of scrimmage.
While Dalton is presented as the most realistic of the three options, an argument could be made for Brissett as well: he has experience in the Patriots’ system, something that both Dalton, Trubisky and a rookie passer would miss. When it comes to the mentor role, this could be seen as valuable even though that alone would likely not be a disqualifying factor as far as Dalton and Trubisky are concerned.
They would obviously not be “sexy” options to fill New England’s QB role, but that may not be the main objective to bring them in — even though PFF suggests that they might become the starters in 2021 if the Patriots miss a top-five quarterback in the draft.