Patriots’ Need For Third QB Swells With Tom Brady’s Reinstated Suspension

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The New England Patriots currently don’t have a backup quarterback for the first four weeks of the 2016 NFL season.

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was reinstated Monday, leaving Jimmy Garoppolo as the Patriots’ starter in Weeks 1 through 4, and New England doesn’t have a third quarterback on its 90-man roster.

The Patriots signed quarterback Matt Flynn last offseason while Brady’s status was up in the air. When Flynn couldn’t get healthy for the start of training camp, the Patriots dumped him and signed Ryan Lindley. When Brady’s suspension was vacated, Lindley was released, and Garoppolo served as the No. 2.

The Patriots have two options to find a No. 3: Sign a veteran free agent or draft a quarterback. Garoppolo is entering his third NFL season, which should lessen the need for a veteran presence. Garoppolo’s deal runs out after the 2017 season, so drafting a backup could also serve as an eye to the future when Garoppolo is gone and the need for a new No. 2 arises.

Flynn is among the top veteran backups on the open market. Here’s the full list:

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Brian Hoyer
Tarvaris Jackson
Jimmy Clausen
Bruce Gradkowski
Charlie Whitehurst
T.J. Yates
Michael Vick
Matt Flynn
Josh Freeman
Ricky Stanzi

Some notes:

— Hoyer makes the most sense on that list, because he was on the Patriots from 2009 to 2012, but he’ll likely have offers on the open market to serve as a No. 2.

— Flynn is a fit because the Patriots liked him enough to sign him last year.

— Yates played under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien in 2015 with the Houston Texans, so he could have a head start on the offense.

— Stanzi worked out for New England last month and played under Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll in 2012, when Daboll was the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator.

Here are the top quarterback fits for the Patriots in the 2016 NFL Draft, and where they’re projected to be selected, according to NFLDraftScout.com:

Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech (Round 7)
Joel Stave, Wisconsin (Undrafted)
Cardale Jones, Ohio State (Round 3-4)
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (Round 2-3)
Kevin Hogan, Stanford (Round 5)
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana (Round 7)
Josh Woodrum, Liberty (Round 7)
Cody Kessler, USC (Round 7)
Brandon Allen, Arkansas (Round 6)
Jake Rudock, Michigan (Undrafted)
Jake Coker, Alabama (Round 7)

Some notes:

— Driskel, athletically, is the best fit for the Patriots, meeting their standards with his size, speed, explosion and lateral agility.

— Jones played under Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who’s a friend of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

— The Patriots have shown heavy interest in Stanford products lately, which could make Hogan appealing.

— Sudfeld’s brother, tight end Zach, played for the Patriots in 2013.

Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) prior to a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints the at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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