Are the New England Patriots leaning toward an open quarterback competition?

Adam Schefter on Monday joined ESPN’s “Get Up!” to discuss how the Patriots plan to go about replacing Tom Brady, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency after 20 seasons in New England. The NFL insider believes the Patriots could stand pat after reportedly agreeing Sunday to a one-year contract with Brian Hoyer following his release from the Indianapolis Colts.

New England now has Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler on its quarterback depth chart with free agency in full swing and the NFL draft looming next month.

“That may be the plan going into training camp, where there is no obvious starter,” Schefter said. “You have Jarrett Stidham on a rookie contract. You’ve got Brian Hoyer on a salary where basically he’s making $2 million of which the Colts are paying half. And you draft another young quarterback. And then you’ve got three quarterbacks — all capable, all waiting to see what they can do, all at that some point in time on inexpensive contracts, and you take that money and you rebuild the rest of the roster. You spend money elsewhere, and you sign young players to extensions, and you have a lot of extra money to spend because you haven’t spent it at the quarterback position. Because frankly right now, there’s nobody that the Patriots have identified that that money’s worth spending on.

“So again, you’re going to have Stidham competing for the job. Brian Hoyer’s going to be capable of competing for the job. I think they draft another quarterback. And if there is some veteran quarterback still on the street in a couple of weeks — no home, price dropped — maybe the Patriots bring him into the mix, as well. But I think that right now, they feel pretty comfortable with the quarterback situation with Brian Hoyer back in the fold, and they’ll let these men compete this summer. There’s not a lot of money invested at the position, it gives them flexibility and options, and let the best man win that job.”

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This will do little to calm the nerves of Patriots fans who are upset over Brady’s departure. Hoyer is very familiar with the organization from his two previous stints in New England, and Stidham, a fourth-round pick in 2019, has upside the Pats can dream on as they approach life without Brady. But it’s hard to feel confident in New England’s offense with either of those quarterbacks calling the shots in 2020, especially after its struggles with Brady in 2019.

As such, there’s been some speculation the Patriots could target a more high-profile starter, like Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers or Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals. Schefter doesn’t really see either of those veterans as an option, though, largely due to their respective price tags.

“I don’t think the Patriots are clamoring for either option right now,” Schefter said. “I think that if maybe the Cincinnati Bengals wanted to move on, maybe they could figure out a way. But Andy Dalton’s due to make $17 million a year. The New England Patriots are not going to pay Andy Dalton $17 million a year. They’re not gonna pay Cam Newton $19.1 million a year. They’re not gonna sink that kind of money into a quarterback, and that’s what we’re talking about.

“Later on, if one of these quarterbacks were released, wanted to go to New England on a real cheap contract, sure, that’s possible. But I don’t see that happening on either front. I don’t see one of those quarterbacks being willing to take that money. I don’t see the Patriots going that route. I think the Patriots like where they’re set up right now, and they’ll continue to assess the market as they do at every position.”

Exciting? Not really. Then again, maybe the Patriots already have their sights set on 2021, when they’re favored to land one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

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