Well, this is it! It is officially time to start talking about the prospect of potentially not having the greatest quarterback of all time leading the New England Patriots down the tunnel on Sundays. Even though there is still a possibility that Tom Brady will end up back with the Patriots this upcoming season, it would be wise to have a backup plan just in case he does leave in free agency. There are a few candidates that the Pats can consider as a replacement, some of them short term replacements, some more of a long term solution.
It has recently been reported that the Los Angeles Chargers have “moved on” from quarterback Philip Rivers, so could he be on the Patriots’ radar in free agency? Rivers had a decent year last season for a quarterback in the twilight of his career. Rivers was top five in passing yards last season averaging 288.4 yards per game. He did struggle with ball security, throwing 20 interceptions last season alone, which is not a recipe for success. However, if the Patriots could bring in Rivers for a season or two, it could give them enough time to develop their next quarterback while also competing for a division championship.
Bridgewater was given the deal of a lifetime when Drew Brees was sidelined for five weeks with a hand injury. Bridgewater took full advantage of the opportunity by winning all five of his starts while having a 99.1 QBR for the season. Bridgewater, 28, could provide the Patriots a long term solution at quarterback while also entering what should be the prime of his career.
A.J. McCarron is a very interesting option the Patriots could pursue. McCarron hasn’t had much of an opportunity to prove himself since he got three starts back in 2015 on the Cincinnati Bengals. In his three starts with the Bengals he secured two wins while holding onto a 97.1 QBR. He has since been with the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans, never really finding a home—but maybe that home could be New England.
The Patriots may very well stay in-house for the next quarterback if they truly believe Jarrett Stidham has what it takes to be an everyday starter in the NFL. In the preseason, Stidham looked like the Pats may have found a diamond in the rough, with Stidham winning three of the four games he played in while having a solid QBR of 102.6. However, in the few looks he got in the regular season, he completed two passes on four attempts while also throwing a pick six. Obviously there isn’t much to go on with his regular season stats, so maybe he can be a solid starter in the NFL.
The Patriots organization has a lot to think about this off-season when it comes to the quarterback position. They could decide to go in full tank mode this season and look at a top-end quarterback in next year’s draft. They could take one of the quarterbacks listed above and see if they have what it takes to lead the Pats to another division title. Then, last but not least, the Patriots could decide to bite the bullet and give a 42 going on 43-year-old Tom Brady the money he wants (and probably deserves) to see if this great dynasty has anything left in the tank.