On March 12, 2021, Patriot Nation woke up to the news regarding the New England Patriots quarterback situation. The news was a reunion with Cam Newton. The signing was first reported by Jim McBride of the Boston Globe who reported that Newton and the Patriots have agreed to a one-year deal. Adam Schefter later reported that the deal is “worth close to $14 million” while Mike Reiss clarified the news, saying the deal has a base salary of $6 million with “heavy incentives” making the deal worth $14 million.
Evaluating The Patriots Quarterback Situation- Pre NFL Draft
Current Patriots Quarterbacks
The current situation for the Patriots quarterback situation is simple: they have Jarrett Stidham and Cam Newton. Last season, Newton started in 15 games and only missed one start due to his contraction of COVID-19. With that being said, if the Patriots don’t add another quarterback to the roster, it’s safe to say Newton will be the starter in Week 1.
Although the Patriots already have two quarterbacks on their roster, it is expected that they’ll add another quarterback, but their options are limited. The Newton signing eliminates almost any trades involving a bridge quarterback. If a trade were to happen, it is going to be for a guy Coach Belichick believes is greater than a bridge quarterback.
Moves to Improve The Patriots Quarterback Situation
Although Newton was the starter for the majority of games last year and just signed a new deal, the Patriots are not done making moves. Picking up Newton was the plan all along, but not their primary option. Multiple reports indicate that the Patriots’ first plan is to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo was supposed to be the heir to Tom Brady so it makes sense to try and get him back. Belichick would have made Garoppolo the quarterback last season if Brady and Robert Kraft didn’t force Belichick to give him away to the San Francisco 49ers. Garoppolo was and has been Belichick’s primary choice in a post-Tom Brady era.
Newton’s deal will cost the Patriots $6 million which isn’t a bad deal. This keeps a quarterback on the roster while making sure if another guy, hopefully, Jimmy Garoppolo, becomes available they can still make a move for him. With reports saying that Garoppolo is the Patriots Plan A, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Newton was brought back as the Plan B. Belichick most likely looked at the situation and realized that he would want a veteran guy if Garoppolo doesn’t become available.
But it seems like he may not have to worry about that now. The Niners recently traded picks with the Miami Dolphins for the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. This most likely means that Kyle Shanahan is ready to move on from Garoppolo and is eyeing a top quarterback prospect in the draft. You can debate all day who the Niners are going to draft, but it’s evident that the 49ers are ready to move on from Garoppolo.
Drafting the Next Patriots Quarterback
If the Patriots can’t pull off a trade for Garoppolo, they could use the fifteenth overall pick to draft a quarterback. Multiple mock drafts have top prospects, like Justin Fields and Trey Lance, falling into the Patriots’ laps at fifteen. Although this would be a dream for the Patriots, it may not be in their best interest to draft any offensive player at fifteen. Instead, the Patriots may be targeting a top defensive prospect. The 2021 NFL Draft is a deep class and with many of the top picks taking offensive prospects, Belichick could get a great defensive prospect at fifteen.
If the Patriots use the fifteen pick for a defensive player or trade down, they could still get a great quarterback in the later rounds. Many mock drafts project Kellen Mond to be drafted on the second and third days of the draft. This leaves the Patriots with the opportunity to get a great prospect without using a first-round pick.
What happens if the Patriots don’t draft or trade for a quarterback?
If the Patriots fail to draft a decent quarterback prospect or trade for a quarterback, then there will be no change to the quarterback room. This would be a colossal mistake. Last season, Patriots fans saw what happens when a team has a quarterback that can’t throw the ball — a miserable 7-9 season. The outcomes of this situation would mostly be negative but there would be one bright spot: maybe this shows they have a little faith in Jarrett Stidham.
If the Patriots didn’t have faith in Stidham, then why wouldn’t they draft a quarterback. But it’s a double edge sword, if they have faith in him, why not start him towards the end of last season? That’s a question that only Belichick can answer.