Patriots Mailbag: Are Jameis Winston Or Sam Darnold Possibilities At QB?

One of the two QBs is a much better value


February 5, 2021

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers set to play in Super Bowl LV on Sunday, an inordinate amount of time has been spent looking at and listening to Tom Brady speaking over Zoom video conference calls over the last two weeks.

The biggest takeaway: How little Brady has changed in his dealings with the media while going from playing under Bill Belichick on the New England Patriots to Bruce Arians on the Buccaneers.

Buccaneers players, in general, seem a lot looser with the media. Brady’s the same guy, however. It’s unclear if he’s just unable to break from the Patriots’ modus operandi or if the Brady we saw in New England was the Brady we would have seen no matter where he started his career.

Watch above and read below to check out this week’s mailbag. Thanks, as always, for all of the great questions.

There are top 12 drafted QBs available. What is it about Jameis Winston that caused him to be drafted #1, but no longer a hot prospect now?

It’s pretty crazy, right?

Matthew Stafford gets dealt for two first-round picks, a third-rounder and Jared Goff. Sam Darnold reportedly could command a late first-round pick. The reported asking price for Derek Carr is two first-round picks. Meanwhile, Winston signed a one-year contract for $1.1 million with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent last offseason.

Here’s how those quarterbacks rank (out of 35 passers) in EPA+CPOE (expected points added plus completion percentage over expected) since 2015:

Winston: 14th
Carr: 17th
Stafford: 19th
Darnold: 35th

Here’s where they rank since 2018 (out of 26 QBs):

Carr: 10th
Winston: 14th
Stafford: 18th
Darnold: 26th

Winston’s 30 interceptions (which EPA accounts for) in 2019 don’t help, and they couldn’t have come at a worse time before the QB hit free agency last offseason. That season also was an anomaly. Winston had thrown 15, 18, 11 and 14 interceptions in his first four NFL seasons. Winston has a 1.38:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio compared to Darnold’s 1.15:1 mark. Winston (3.4 percent) and Darnold’s (3.2 percent) interception rates are similar.

It just feels like there has to be some bias involved here, right? How could Darnold, who’s been absolutely awful over the first three years of his career, be considered more valuable than Winston when every possible metric says otherwise? It doesn’t make a lick of sense.

It seems like the Saints are looking to hold onto Winston this offseason, so his market could heat up in free agency.

He’s certainly worth a flier and should be an NFL starter based on his first five seasons in the league.

One more factor here: Winston went 26-of-46 for 334 yards with a touchdown in his one game against New England. Darnold has a 46.4 passer rating in his three starts against the Patriots. And one of those came while Darnold was “seeing ghosts” 10 days before Halloween in 2019.

IF and it’s a big “if” a suitable trade does not pan out for a QB(Jimmy, Carr, Deshaun), are we better off over drafting a Mac Jones than taking a flyer on the Fitzpatricks of the world ? #MailDoug

Not if the Patriots are overdrafting Mac Jones. If New England feels Jones is worth the 15th overall pick, then the team should, by all means, take the Alabama product in the first round.

But if the Patriots don’t feel like Jones is a first-round caliber quarterback, then they would be better off taking a flier on a veteran quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick (or Winston). A first-round pick is more valuable than the cap space it would take to sign a veteran QB.

Do you think Gilmore deserves more love from Patriots fans? It seems that many prefer him to be traded than be on the roster. #MailDoug

Yeah, maybe.

I?m not sure if I agree that Stephon Gilmore doesn?t receive enough love from Patriots fans, but I do believe New England should consider giving Gilmore a raise this offseason over trading him.

If the Patriots can only get a second-round pick in a trade for Gilmore, then they?d be better off just giving the All-Pro cornerback a raise. If it costs, say, $10 million to keep Gilmore, do we think the Patriots could get a better player for that $10 million and a draft pick? Probably not in the short term.

What do you think led to the Stidham hype? Do you think the Pats ever felt good about him? If so, what changed? If the Patriots can’t/don’t sign a QB, are you worried about what a season with him under center would look like?

The Patriots definitely felt good about him after his rookie season. The biggest question is why they soured on him to the point where they signed Cam Newton and barely gave Stidham any playing time in 2020.

It didn’t help that Stidham got injured during training camp. And since the summer schedule was so truncated and with no preseason, Stidham was never able to make up ground.

It would definitely be worrisome if Stidham had to start in 2021, but realistically, we still don’t totally know what he is as a player.

Maybe not the sexiest option at QB for the Patriots in 2021, but if the Jets were to go in a different direction at QB themselves, what do you think is reasonable compensation for Darnold? One of their 4th round compensatory picks?

ESPN’s Adam Schefter predicted this week that Darnold would garner a late first-round pick in a trade, so that should remove him from any consideration. I know Darnold hasn’t been in the best situation, but he has essentially been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL since entering the league.

Darnold might be worth a third-round flier. I don’t think a team other than the New York Jets could go into the 2021 season with Darnold as their guaranteed starter, however.

Let’s go rapid fire.

What about Barmore at 15? The run defense was horrible last year.

The Patriots definitely need defensive line help. Christian Barmore is a potential fit in the first round if the right quarterback or wide receiver isn’t there.

Who are some under the radar Free Agents that the Pats might pick up (i.e. the next Kyle Van Noy)?

Here are some names that catch my eye:

WR Josh Reynolds
WR Alex Erickson
TE Dan Arnold
OL Dan Feeney
LB Tyus Bowser
DE Trent Murphy

Doug I believe Jacoby Brissett is the QB for the Pats in 2021 with a drafted QB in the first 3 rounds. What do you think?

I don’t think that would produce many wins in 2021. I think the first three letters of your Twitter handle describe Brissett pretty well.

Newton and Lance or Brissett and Lance as an ideal scenario?

If those are the two options, then I’m taking Newton and Trey Lance. I like Lance a lot (no pun intended). I don’t think he’ll be available at No. 15 overall, but I suppose it’s possible.

Two firsts, Gilmore, and Hightower for Deshaun. Yes, no, maybe?

No chance. Not enough.

Do you like pineapple on pizza?

I do, and my 3-year-old daughter really does. Her favorite pizza toppings are olives and pineapple. So, we wind up ordering pineapple and bacon pizza very often.

I’m trying that Square MFG Co. pizza place in Natick this weekend.

Haven’t asked a #DougsBuds question in a few weeks. It’s the morning as I write this, so would you be so kind to rank your top cereal brands ? #MailDoug

I know this won’t be popular, but I’m not a big cereal person.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the best. I like Reese’s Puffs. Beyond that, I’m not big on chocolately or fruity cereal. I just think it all tastes the same.

Hot food tip, though: Gluten-free Oreos are great. You would never know they’re gluten free.

What?s the deal with airplane food?

Did Jerry Seinfeld singlehandedly get airlines to stop serving meals on planes because of his jokes?

Ooh big fan of parking cars. We talking parallel or backing into spaces or what? #mailDoug

I’m not going to lie. I’m a traditional parker. I’m not much for parallel parking or backing into spaces. I just pull right in, and when I need to, I back right out.

I like a good parking lot, though. That’s why I’m a suburbs guy. I lived in Allston for a few years out of college, and finding parking on the street always stressed me out.

How cold were you pre-SB52?

It’s actually hilarious to watch this video because I feel like we could all barely even speak because it was so freaking freezing. A wool jacket, suit and dress shirt wasn’t close to being enough layers.

I was so cold that entire week that I ordered a massive down jacket as soon as I got home. It was definitely still a fun experience in Minnesota, but the weather basically forced everyone to stay cooped up inside the Mall of America all week. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be doing that again.

I miss being on the scene for the Super Bowl this week. There was no real point in going because all of the availability was done via Zoom. But it’s been strange to be home for the week for the first time since Super Bowl XLVIII. Since Monday, I’ve felt like I shouldn’t be home. It’s very odd.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin
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