Unfortunately, that proved not to be the case. No team was willing to offer up a draft pick to take on Hoyer, who was on a restricted free agent deal worth about $2 million for the 2012 season. That was especially true in light of his relatively poor performance in the preseason.
Part of the reason for that poor performance was the fact that he almost never saw the field in 2011. This was certainly not his fault. Given how easily the 2011 Patriots gave up yards and points, especially early in the season, you could argue that no lead was ever truly safe. But the fact remains that Hoyer only attempted a single pass in 2011: the completion that allowed TE Rob Gronkowski to set the NFL season record for receiving yards by a tight end.
Nevertheless, the Patriots do deserve some blame for not getting Hoyer on the field as much in 2011 as they could have. Certainly, at a minimum, they could have put him on the field in the final quarter of their playoff game against the Denver Broncos, a 45-10 blowout that wasn't even as close as that score suggests. It would have given him some valuable practice, and even in the worst-case scenario of a pick-six, the Patriots would still have been leading by three scores.
Unfortunately, the Patriots have shown the same reluctance to get current backup Ryan Mallett on the field.
In their Week 1 win over the Titans, the Patriots had two fourth-quarter drives that both ended in field goals. The first one had 11 plays—four pass attempts and seven runs. On the second, the Patriots just had Brandon Bolden run the ball on five straight downs. Certainly in the latter case, there is no reason to expose Brady to risk of injury. (Remember that a melee broke out as the Denver Broncos got chippy in the fourth quarter of their playoff loss.)
Similarly, with the Pats up by three scores late in the fourth quarter of their 52-28 blowout of the Buffalo Bills, there was Tom Brady handing off to Stevan Ridley on the Patriots' final drive. Before their last field goal, Brady completed a pass to Brandon Lloyd. Why couldn't the Patriots have Mallett out there instead?
In fact, of the 92 players that dressed for the Patriots/Bills game, Mallett was the only one on either team who didn't play. Heck, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, the Patriots were able to get Nate Ebner on the field as a safety for a few plays. If they can manage that, surely they should be able to get Mallett on the field, too.
Ryan Mallett is currently the only quarterback on the Patriots roster other than Tom Brady. They don't even have a practice squad quarterback at the moment. Do the Patriots really want to run the risk of having to rely on Mallett, in the event of Brady getting hurt, with zero regular season experience?
Tom Brady is a warrior, and wants to be out on the field for every snap for the offense. But for the long-term good of the team, the Patriots might be better served putting Mallett on the field in situations like this one.
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