It might be a fair evaluation, as Stidham, a fourth-round pick in 2019, has very little NFL experience and yet could be tasked with replacing the greatest quarterback in league history.
But Michael Lombardi, a former NFL executive and current analyst who spent two seasons as an assistant to the Patriots’ coaching staff (2014-16), sees flaws in McShay’s evaluation.
“I think Stidham’s way better than Todd does. I think Stidham was a better college player,” Lombardi said on the latest episode of “The GM Shuffle” podcast. “… Now, do I think the Patriots could easily go out and sign Cam Newton? Yeah, I think there is no doubt they could easily go out and sign Cam Newton. I think if they could sign Jameis Winston, if he didn’t have some of the off-the-field stuff with him, I think they would probably go out and sign Jameis Winston. That being said, they’re going to give Stidham every opportunity.”
Stidham, an Auburn product who turns 24 in August, has drawn praise from NFL scouts who wonder whether he would’ve been selected higher in last year’s draft had he played in a college system more conducive to his skill set. He also made a positive impression on his Patriots teammates and coaches during his rookie season as Brady’s backup.
Still, he’s an unknown quantity at this stage of his career, which could explain why New England brought back journeyman Brian Hoyer on a one-year contract this offseason. One shouldn’t expect Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels to hand anything to Stidham, even if he’s the front-runner for the job vacated by Brady.
“Where I think Todd misses the boat here a little bit is that they’re not all-in on Stidham,” Lombardi said. “Stidham is going to have to earn it. Where they’re not being blinded by Stidham. They’re not being the Mitchell Trubisky, MVP Mitch, and just saying, ‘OK it’s your job.’ They’re going to go in with an open mind. That, to me, is more important than anything.”
This is unfamiliar territory for the Patriots, who are entering a season without Brady as their starting quarterback for the first time since 2001. So far, outside opinions on Stidham are mixed.
We’ll find out soon enough where exactly the organization stands on the young signal-caller.