Free-agent quarterback Brian Hoyer is returning to the New England Patriots, his agency announced Monday.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirmed the contract will run for the 2021 season. The Patriots now have four quarterbacks on the roster: Hoyer, Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones.
At best, Hoyer is probably the No. 3 QB in that group. He made one start for the team in 2020, going 15-of-24 for 130 yards and one interception in a Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
His return may be a reflection of the franchise's feelings on Stidham.
The 2019 fourth-round pick was in line to replace Tom Brady prior to the arrival of Newton, and then he quickly fell behind Newton in the depth chart following a poor training camp. When Newton was unavailable against Kansas City, it seemed telling that Hoyer and not Stidham got the starting nod. Stidham came on as a backup in that game and finished 5-of-13 for 60 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Carrying four quarterbacks is a lot—even at this stage of the offseason—and there's probably little chance all four make the final roster.
In the event it comes down a choice between Stidham and Hoyer, the former might be the odd man out.
Last month, Hoyer was linked with the New York Jets, who also selected a quarterback (BYU's Zach Wilson) in the first round. The 35-year-old can serve as a veteran mentor for Jones, who's positioned to be the Patriots' long-term solution under center.