The presumption is the New England Patriots will select a quarterback at some point in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Well, what if they choose a different route?
Four quarterbacks — Joe Burrow (No. 1), Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5), Justin Herbert (No. 6) and Jordan Love (No. 26) — came off the board Thursday night in Round 1. The Patriots, meanwhile, traded out of the first round, acquiring a second-round pick (No. 37) and a third-round pick (No. 71) from the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for the No. 23 overall selection.
While it’s possible New England uses its newfound flexibility to bring aboard a signal-caller on Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft, there’s another avenue Bill Belichick still could consider: Landing a veteran quarterback, either via trade or free agency.
By now, you’re familiar with the most popular names available: Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston and Cam Newton.
NBC Sports’ Peter King isn’t sure whether New England is interested in any of those quarterbacks, but he’s also not ready to rule out a potential pursuit of an experienced QB.
“I think there is a chance,” King said Friday morning on WEEI’s “Dale & Keefe,” as transcribed by WEEI.com. “I mean, I don’t know what the Patriots are thinking right now about the quarterback position. I am sure Bill Belichick likes it that way, but I don’t know whether they are thinking, ‘Let’s see if Andy Dalton shakes loose in Cincinnati, or let’s see if they will take a (fifth-round pick) for him,’ or something like that. I don’t know if they are thinking that. I don’t know what they are thinking.”
Join the club, Pete.
We can speculate all we want, but it’s nearly impossible to creep into Belichick’s mind, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. After all, it once was hard to envision Brady finishing his career elsewhere. Then, next thing you know, the six-time Super Bowl champion was on to Tampa Bay after 20 seasons in New England.
All signs point toward Jarrett Stidham becoming New England’s starting quarterback this season, with Brian Hoyer serving as the backup. The 2019 fourth-round pick is an unknown quantity given his lack of NFL experience, though, so it’s fair to assume the Patriots will add another quarterback someway, somehow.
Maybe they’ll trade for Dalton in wake of the Cincinnati Bengals drafting Burrow with the first overall pick. Maybe they’ll sign either Winston or Newton. Or maybe they have their sights set on someone in the draft.
“I think it is very hard right now — it is so hard with Winston,” King said. “You have to accept the fact that Jameis Winston, you have to figure out internally if you see a guy play in the NFL for five years and he is at his worst and most careless in year five, do you want to take him on as a reclamation project?
“Then with Cam Newton, this year, someone told me this (Thursday night) and I thought it was really, really smart because I said, ‘Why are none of these guys like Trent Williams and Yannick Ngakoue, all these guys should be getting offers and should getting traded right now. Why aren’t they getting traded?’ This GM told me (Thursday night), ‘Because this is so hard.’ He brought up Cam Newton as an example. He said, ‘How do you make a decision on Cam Newton when you can’t bring him into your facility and you can’t have your doctors look at him. How do you do that, especially when he isn’t going to play for the minimum?’ I think this is what has led to some of these quarterbacks just being out there for an insanely long time.”
Basically, the Patriots’ game plan at quarterback is anyone’s guess. So we probably should just strap in, keep an open mind and see how the dominoes fall.