Will the New England Patriots regret their riskiest gamble?

ESPN’s NFL fantasy writer Mike Clay on Thursday named the Patriots’ failure to acquire an “accomplished” quarterback as the biggest missed opportunity of the 2020 NFL offseason. The Patriots seemingly intend to enter training camp with veteran backup Brian Hoyer and second-year signal-caller Jarrett Stidham atop their QB depth chart, and Clay is among the many NFL observers who struggle to understand why New England didn’t purse like Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and other available stars.

“Tom Brady is gone, and his replacement is 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, with a backup plan of 34-year-old Brian Hoyer,” Clay wrote. “On paper, that’s one of the worst QB rooms we’ve seen in quite a while — the two combined to attempt 69 passes last season. And, if this wasn’t the Bill Belichick-led Patriots, the franchise would be taking a lot more heat for the apparent plan.

“Put simply, Day 3 quarterbacks are extreme long shots for NFL success. A first-round (21), second-round (four) or third-round (two) QB is likely to handle the bulk of the dropbacks for 27 of 32 teams this season. That said, Belichick is, well, the GOAT. It’s hard to believe he’d be content with a long shot under center unless Stidham had convinced him that he was the real deal behind the scenes last season. Color me extremely intrigued to see how this plays out, but it’s undoubtedly an extremely risky gamble.”

New England’s post-Brady QB battle likely will be the most closely watched storylines of training camp, and NFL observers everywhere will zero in on how the winner performs under center during the 2020 season. Should Stidham and/or Hoyer struggle, critics of the Patriots’ QB gamble undoubtedly will launch barbs in Belichick’s direction over his backing of the unproven duo.

Such is the nature of sports.

More: Patriots Positional Preview — Three Big Questions On New England’s QB Competition

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