Whoever becomes the New England Patriots’ next starting quarterback will face immense pressure.
Not only are Tom Brady’s six Super Bowl titles still fresh in the minds of Patriots fans as the future Hall of Famer operates the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense. New England also is coming off an underwhelming 7-9 season with Cam Newton at the helm.
Thus, as former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi explained Wednesday on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria,” one QB option perhaps makes the most sense for New England: Old friend Jimmy Garoppolo.
“This is why I think it is going to be so difficult and I think maybe (Garoppolo) is the way to go, because he’s been in New England before and played under Tom Brady and been in the stadium with all those banners to look up to and know he was somewhat part of it,” Bruschi said, as transcribed by WEEI.com. “Any other quarterback, why do you want to follow Tom Brady? You’re always going to be compared to the successes and the past, and that is going to make it a tough job.
“That’s going to make it a job to where guys will come in, ‘I can’t live up to that.’ I think the pressure is higher than ever in New England in terms of who the next quarterback is going to be.”
Garoppolo, drafted in the second round by New England in 2014, spent parts of four seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers on Halloween 2017. He won two Super Bowl titles as Brady’s backup.
There was a time when it looked like Garoppolo would be Brady’s successor in New England. Brady’s continued run of excellence ultimately opened the door for Garoppolo’s exit, however, and now it’s unclear who will be the Patriots’ long-term answer at quarterback.
Newton struggled in 2020 and is set to hit free agency. And only Jarrett Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round pick, and Jake Dolegala, a 2019 undrafted free agent, are under contract for 2021.
“You’ve better have some guts to come in here. I’ll tell you that right now,” Bruschi said on WEEI. “Because from Day 1, it is going to be like, ‘OK, we’re ready for a Super Bowl championship,’ And they will have to deliver because that’s what (Patriots fans) are used to here.
“I think Garoppolo knows that. I think Garoppolo could even say, ‘You know what, I can do it. I know how it’s done.’ To me, maybe that is the best option because of the amount of pressure the new guy is going to have. It’s going to be a hard, hard task.”
It’s a near certainty the Patriots will explore the QB market this offseason. The particulars of that search are far less certain, with free agency, trades and the 2021 NFL Draft all potential avenues for New England finding its next signal caller.
Garoppolo is under contract with the Niners for 2021, so it’s possible he won’t even be available to the Patriots. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bill Belichick kick the tires on the 29-year-old, for many of the reasons Bruschi outlined.