Bill Belichick evidently liked what he saw from rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham this preseason.
The New England Patriots on Saturday released veteran signal-caller Brian Hoyer during final roster cuts, according to a report from Adam Caplan of SiriusXM Radio.
Hoyer had been Tom Brady’s top backup since returning to New England midway through the 2017 season. His release means the Patriots will enter the 2019 campaign with Brady and Stidham as the only players on their QB depth chart.
The 33-year-old Hoyer played well early in the preseason (18-for-22, 202 yards, two touchdowns, one interception in wins over the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans) but did not see action in either of the Patriots’ final two exhibition games.
Stidham, a fourth-round draft pick out of Auburn, relieved Brady during the team’s third preseason contest, then went wire to wire in Thursday’s finale, completing 18 of 28 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns with one interception against the New York Giants.
In four preseason appearances, Stidham completed 67.8 percent of his passes (61 of 90) for 731 yards and four touchdowns with one pick, plus another 88 yards on 19 rushing attempts. His overall performance over the course of the summer was the most impressive by any Patriots rookie QB in recent memory — a list that includes the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.
Hoyer should receive interest from teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions that could benefit from adding a proven veteran backup.
?I love Brian Hoyer,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said earlier this week. “Brian has been great for us. He?s great for Tom. He?s done a nice job in the preseason, obviously. Brian knows our system, knows how to operate and function within the things we do, throws the ball well and is an extremely hard worker. Really smart, great teammate and as good a leader as (any) backup quarterback that I?ve been around. … He makes the guys around him better.”
The Patriots have not entered a season with three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster since 2011, when they carried Brady, Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. All NFL teams must trim their rosters to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.