Which Quarterback Should Start for the Patriots in 2021?
By: David Buskirk (Twitter: @DBus49)
The New England Patriots have become one of the most iconic teams in NFL history because of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s partnership. However, In 2020, the unthinkable happened. Tom Brady left Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Belichick was left with whatever was leftover on the quarterback market since he had very little money to spend. After three months on the market, Belichick decided to sign Cam Newton to a one-year deal worth $1.05 million which was the minimum for a player with Newton’s experience.
With Cam Newton as the starter in 2020, the Patriots went 7-9. It was obvious to many that Belichick would need a new quarterback to come 2021. This was not the only issue facing the franchise though, as the receiving group underperformed. Jacoby Meyers led the team in catches, bringing in 59 of his 81 targets for 729 yards. Going forward I believe Meyers can be an excellent Y receiver for the Patriots. Assuming Edelman is back he will be able to control the majority of the snaps in the slot. The Patriots drafted Devin Asiasi at 91 and Dalton Keene at 101 in the 2020 NFL Draft to play tight end. I expect both to play a role in 2021, however, the Patriots may be able to upgrade the position in free agency.
This offseason there are a number of quarterbacks that the Patriots could bring in to start in 2021. The biggest question surrounding the team is whether they are trying to compete or simply trying to develop young players and begin a rebuild for the first time in a long time.
Option One – Sign a Veteran via Free Agency
Ryan Fitzpatrick went 4-3 with 13 touchdowns and 2,091 yards before the Dolphins decided to start Tua Tagovailoa. Andy Dalton went 4-5, while throwing 14 touchdowns and 2,170 yards for the Cowboys after Dak Prescott got injured in week five against the Giants.
Jacoby Brissett has experience with the Patriots and was a Walter Payton Man of the year nominee. Mitch Trubisky struggled most of his career with the Bears, however, showed improvement in 2020. In 2019 he had a 63.2 percent completion rate for 17 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and an 8-7 record.
In 2020 he also had a 67 percent completion rate for 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions while going 6-3 and got sacked 20 times less than his total in 2019.
With the right coaching staff, Trubisky may be able to resurrect his career.
Option Two – Keep Cam Newton
Cam Newton is a bridge quarterback in my opinion. The argument against bringing Newton back is that they don’t have anyone to bridge to. I would consider bringing Newton back if I had a young player who can learn and develop under him.
Option Three – Draft a Quarterback
The Patriots draft at number 15 in the 2021 NFL Draft. This means that the top options will likely be drafted by the time they are on the board, as long as they don’t trade up.
However, at 15 they may have a chance to get Mac Jones from Alabama. I believe Mac Jones can be a franchise quarterback for the Patriots given the skilled coaching staff and offensive line.
The biggest obstacle for Jones is the NFL will require him to throw into tight windows far more often than he had to in Alabama, so it would be smart to have him develop more before throwing him into a live game. Mac Jones would be a better fit than Newton in Josh McDaniels short passing attack.
Option Four – Trade For a Quarterback
There are a few teams that would likely trade their quarterbacks for one reason or the other. The players that come to mind are Sam Darnold, Gardner Minshew, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz, and potentially Jimmy Garoppolo.
The asking price varies, however, if the Patriots go with this option they should not be giving up first-round draft picks. All of these options seem like long shots at this point to ever truly be a franchise quarterback. There was rumors of Belichick being interested in Taysom Hill when he was a restricted free agent in the 2020 offseason. Perhaps, Belichick makes a run at Hill or a different dual-threat QB like Jalen Hurts.
Option Five – Start Jarrett Stidham
Stidham was a fourth-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and has spent the last two years with Belichick learning under both Brady and Newton. There was speculation going into the 2020 season that Belichick would start Stidham, before signing Newton.
My opinion on what the Patriots should do is draft Mac Jones if he is available. Along with drafting Jones I think they should sign a veteran that can serve as a bridge while Jones is developing.
The best option in my opinion is Jacoby Brissett. Brissett is a great man and a great teammate who would go above and beyond to help Mac Jones reach his potential.
The second option would be to sign Mitch Trubisky to a one year deal and hope he can continue to improve under Belichick. If it doesn’t work out with Trubisky then get in a position to draft a top quarterback next year.