Looking ahead to 2021 – Five fits at Quarterback for the New England Patriots

After 20 seasons of having the best quarterback in the league in Tom Brady, the Patriots struggled to get much production from their quarterbacks this past season. With Tom Brady fleeing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots turned to Cam Newton late in the offseason to hopefully continue their playoff streak. While he started the season well, the wheels quickly fell off and New England finished with a disappointing 7-9 record. For the second straight offseason, New England will be in the market for a starting quarterback, and luckily for them, there are many good options available to help the team next season. Here are five options for the Patriots at quarterback heading into the 2021 season. Though there are certainly more choices, these are players that could realistically end up in New England come next season.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions – Trade Target

Matthew Stafford is the first type of player that the New England Patriots should be looking at come this offseason. With two years left on his contract in Detroit, Stafford has made it clear that he wants to play elsewhere, and the Lions are willing to accommodate that request. Going into a rebuild, Stafford doesn’t fit the timeline in Detroit. However, he’s perfect for the Patriots. If New England had better quarterback play last season, they may have found themselves in the playoffs, as Stafford had yet another quality season with 4084 passing yards and 26 touchdowns.

Getting a QB in some way other than the draft would allow the Patriots to look to address another position with their 15th overall pick. With prospects such as Devonta Smith, Kyle Pitts, and Jaylen Waddle in the draft, acquiring Stafford could potentially allow the Patriots to target another young pass catcher with their top pick. While Stafford is unlikely to be the next great Patriots quarterback due to his age, he is certainly a fit to help develop some of the new wideouts this team could have next season.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers – Trade Target

Old friend Jimmy Garappolo is the next Patriots target for their starting QB position. Though he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl just last year, there are rumors that San Francisco may be ready to move on from the 29-year-old after a down season. Is is rumored that Bill Belichick would have preferred to trade Brady to the 49ers instead of Garappolo, but Robert Kraft convinced him to deal Garoppolo to San Francisco at the last minute. So, it is completely not out of the realm of possibility that Belichick would like to bring Jimmy G back to New England. At 29, Garoppolo should still have plenty of time left in his prime, and could very well be the QB that leads the Patriots back to the playoffs. With the level that we saw Damien Harris and the Patriots offensive line play at last season, it’s important to mention that the 49ers rode their running attack and easy play action passes to the Super Bowl with Garoppolo at the helm. And just as with Matt Stafford, trading for Garoppolo would allow New England to look to pick up a skill player with the 15th pick.

Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts – Free Agent

The final former Patriots quarterback we’ll mention is Jacoby Brissett. Traded to Indianapolis in 2017, Brissett was the Colts starter in 2017 and 2019, finishing with respectable totals of 18 TD’s and 6 INT’s in 2019. Bill Belichick is a fan of him from his time in New England to start his career, so this reunion could definitely be in the works. While Brissett is far from the best quarterback on the market, at 28 years old he would more than likely serve as a solid bridge to whoever the next Patriots QB is going to be. His familiarity with the offense would make his transition a little easier than most other QB’s, and certainly easier than any rookie that the team drafts. And finally, as with Stafford and Garoppolo, picking up Brissett would allow the Patriots to go after another position of need in the first round of the draft, or give them a veteran presence to develop a young QB if they decide to go that route.

Mac Jones, Alabama – Draft

Alabama superstar Mac Jones should absolutely be on the Patriots radar in this year’s draft. To be set up for success for years to come, the Patriots need to invest in a young quarterback, so our final two potential fits are both college QB’s that New England could look to draft. Though Alabama quarterbacks rightly carry the stigma of the relative lack of success of their predecessors transitions to the NFL have resulted in, Jones is different. While past Alabama teams have been built around dominating on the ground and airing it out when the opportunity arose, Jones is a pure passer. In order for a wide receiver to win the Heisman, which Alabama wideout Devonta Smith did, it takes a quarterback to get him the ball, and Jones did it over and over this past season. He threw for an incredible 4500 yards, including 41 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Ball security has always been one of the most important things that Bill Belichick looks for in his QB’s, and Jones fits that bill.

The potential issue with Jones is that Patriots have the 15th pick. Many scouts aren’t sure that Jones is worth taking that high, in large part because his numbers were likely inflated by playing with the amount of talent that he did. However, reports from the Senior Bowl have Jones lighting up the competition. After this week, that evaluation may change, and Jones may be right in line with where the Pats are picking. After 20 years of success with a pure pocket passer, the Patriots could look to transition to their next era of greatness with another strong passing arm.

Kyle Trask, Florida – Draft

The final quarterback target for the New England Patriots is former Florida QB Kyle Trask. Another college gunslinger, Trask lit up SEC defenses weekly this past season on his way to 4,283 yards, 43 TD’s and 8 INT’s. Trask isn’t very mobile, which goes against him in the current age of quarterbacks that are able to change the game with their legs, but the Patriots just had the greatest run in NFL history with one of the slowest runners in the league. One concern for Trask is that of his 8 interceptions, 5 came in his last three games, including 3 against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Without those final three games, Trask’s numbers look amazing: 38 TD’s to 3 INT’s.

The best part of Trask might not even be his video game numbers, it might be where they are able to get him. Most likely, he will go somewhere at the very end of the first round or early in the second. While he may not fall to the Patriots second selection at 47 (although he very well could), it should be close enough that if the Patriots want him, they can get him without giving up too many extra assets. Picking Trask in the second round would allow New England to still use their first-round pick on another position. If the Patriots went this route, the could conceivably pair up Trask with his college teammate, TE Kyle Pitts, who may still be available when the Pats go on the clock in the first round. They have obvious chemistry, and both would be able to help the Patriots in both the short and long term.

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