The New England Patriots have no time to look in the rearview mirror with all the buzz about quarterback Tom Brady's departure to Tampa Bay. Head coach Bill Belichick and company have to weigh options on a new commander of the huddle.
The Patriots didn't shy away from young signal-callers in recent offseasons. The team drafted a quarterback in three of the last four years—one of them remains on the roster and is an option to start in 2020.
New England has also reportedly shown interest in an under-the-radar passer within this year's draft class. Don't rule out another rookie addition at the position in April.
Thus far, the Patriots haven't been connected to bigger names on the free-agent market like Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, but their quarterback search suggests the team will go with an inexpensive replacement for Brady.
The latest Patriots rumors shed light on the front-runner for the starting quarterback position, a potential draft target and a young signal-caller who caught their attention.
Jarrett Stidham in Line to Replace Tom Brady?
New England has a quarterback quandary, but the team isn't in a hurry to sign another veteran to compete for the starting job.
The Patriots already signed Brian Hoyer, who will have an opportunity to start for the club, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
Hoyer has two previous stints with the Patriots between the 2009-11 and 2017-18 campaigns, completing 32 of 51 passes for 335 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
During Hoyer's first three seasons in New England, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels held the head coaching position with the Denver Broncos and called plays for the then-St. Louis Rams under Steve Spagnuolo.
Because of McDaniels' brief journey elsewhere, Hoyer doesn't have a major advantage over other Patriots quarterbacks in scheme knowledge, which leaves the door open for competition.
In fact, Jarrett Stidham seems like the early front-runner for the job, per NBC Sports' Tom E. Curran.
"The Patriots, I was told, wouldn't be pursuing a mid-tier veteran quarterback—Dalton, Marcus Mariota, Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater—you name it," Curran wrote. "Which meant the plan was Jarrett Stidham. The Patriots haven't wavered. It appears on March 22 that it is Stidham's job to lose."
The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. He completed two of four passes for 14 yards and an interception last season. The coaching staff will likely attempt to develop the Auburn product before they turn the reins over to a 34-year-old journeyman quarterback.
Patriots Interested in Florida International QB James Morgan?
Despite Stidham's chance to claim the starting job with one year of experience within the system, he's not a lock to earn the position. The 23-year-old will probably battle multiple competitors for the spot.
In addition to Hoyer, New England could add a signal-caller in the draft. According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the team has some level of interest in James Morgan out of Florida International.
Morgan started his collegiate career at Bowling Green State and then transferred to FIU, where he threw for 2,727 yards, 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions during his junior campaign.
The 6'4", 229-pound signal-caller flashes a strong arm, but he doesn't have the smooth throwing mechanics and footwork to warrant early-round consideration. Perhaps the Patriots see those as correctable flaws.
Nonetheless, if New England wants someone who's not afraid to throw downfield, Morgan is the guy to choose on Day 3 of the draft.
Patriots "Sniffed Around" Kyle Allen Before His Move to Washington
The Patriots have $1.97 million in cap space, per Spotrac. They still have to pay Brady $13.5 million in dead cap from previous contracts. As a result, the club had to take the conservative route in its quarterback search.
Last season, Allen filled in for Cam Newton, who missed all but two games with a Lisfranc injury. He threw for 3,322 yards, 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 13 contests, which included 12 starts.
Allen threw for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first four starts, and the Panthers went 4-0 during that stretch. However, teams seemed to figure him out at the end of October, after which the 24-year-old recorded 10 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions for the remainder of the season.
Still, Allen showed poise and the ability to run the Panthers offense on short notice, and head coach Ron Rivera opted to bring the young quarterback with him to Washington.
The Patriots signed Hoyer one day before the Redskins acquired Allen. New England may have considered the latter but decided to go with a familiar face.