With Tom Brady saying his goodbye to New England, Bill Belichick will now move forward with a new quarterback to start a season for the first time in almost two decades.
The big question is where Belichick goes next.
It’d be ridiculous to think the Pats are surprised by Brady’s announcement that he’s leaving. Did New England want TB12 back? Yes. But they’ve assuredly crafted plans in the event Brady moved on.
The QB market has been slow waiting for Brady’s decision. It could heat up in a hurry once his next team is announced.
Jarrett Stidham sits as the top in-house candidate for the Patriots after being drafted in the fourth-round last season.
The more likely replacement is one of the veteran options who are available this offseason
The one most-linked to the Patriots isn’t a QB hitting the open market, but rather available in a trade: Andy Dalton.
The Cincinnati Bengals have made it known they are willing to work with Dalton to find him a prime landing spot as they plan to move ahead with a rookie quarterback taken No. 1 overall. The Patriots would make a cushy destination.
NFL teams are anticipating that match as well.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero noted that he received a text from an NFL coach: "Dalton has to be the Patriots’ guy?"
Dalton makes a lot of sense as a bridge veteran who can manage an offense. He owns a lot of the characteristics Belichick seeks in a signal-caller. However, we’ve seen Dalton struggle in Cincinnati when he wasn’t buffered by superior talent. That’s the same issue that stymied the Patriots’ offense with Brady last season.
Another trade possibility the the Patriots is 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton. The Panthers announced Tuesday that they have given Newon and his team permission to seek a trade.
Teddy Bridgewater was briefly thought to be an option. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Patriots had interest in the former Saints backup QB, but Teddy B quickly agreed to a contract with the Panthers to be their new starting quarterback.
Jameis Winston is another name likely to pop up surrounding New England’s search, especially if Brady lands in Tampa. Winston has a big arm and unquestionable talent. He’s also a turnover-bot, who could potentially give Belichick a conniption on the sideline. Still, wouldn’t it be the ultimate show of coaching power for Belichick to take Winston and turn him into a stable QB?
What about trading for Nick Foles? With Gardner Minshew looking like the future, the Jags could unload Foles. It would take draft capital to get him, and some salary-cap gymnastics to make it work, but Foles leading the Patriots would offer some spiciness and a capable bridge to the future.
The Patriots could also look to the draft if one of the top-tier players begins to fall in the first round. And, of course, there always seems to be an out-of-left-field trade option no one but Belichick has conjured yet.
For the first time this millennium the Patriots have a glaring question at quarterback. How they fill that void will be one of the fascinating plots for the rest of the offseason.
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