Patriots Mailbag: What’s Worst-Case Scenario For Starting QB In 2021?

The Patriots face a conundrum at quarterback and receiver

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One month out from the start of NFL free agency, we?re only slightly closer to knowing who will start at quarterback for the New England Patriots in 2021.

It won?t be Carson Wentz. He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts. It won?t be Matthew Stafford or Jared Goff. They were traded, respectively, to the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions for one another. Derek Carr reportedly is ?not available.?

That still leaves, well, a plethora of options, and the most likely ones remain Marcus Mariota and Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo is the better fit, but the San Francisco 49ers must be willing to trade him. Mariota is the discount option that?s more readily available.

We?ll get into all of the potential QBs in this week?s jam-packed mailbag. Watch above and read below.

@Kabory10
Would you consider Mitchell Trubisky as a realistic option for the Patriots Starting QB next season

I would say pretty much any available quarterback with starting experience is a potential option for the Patriots. Mitchell Trubisky would be one of the more unlikely possibilities, but pretty much anything is on the table right now.

Trubisky would be among the worst-case scenarios, though.

The Patriots are in a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg type bind this offseason. Quarterbacks around the league weren’t blind to Cam Newton’s struggles in New England last season, and some of his issues inextricably were tied to the Patriots’ lack of weapons.

If the money is all the same to a free-agent wide receiver or tight end, then that player will probably pick the team with a better quarterback. I’ve personally fought against the notion that the Patriots could have trouble recruiting free agents, but it is an opinion held around the NFL.

So, how does New England successfully convince a quarterback to come on board with no weapons or a wide receiver with no QB?

The best way to fix this issue would be to trade for a quarterback (Garoppolo? Mariota?) before free agency begins or to make a deal for a big-name wide receiver (Odell Beckham? Julio Jones? Michael Thomas?). Trading for a receiver might be more effective just based on the quality of player they could bring in. Beckham, for example, might be more helpful in recruiting a quarterback than a player like Garoppolo would be in helping to bring aboard weapons. If the Patriots traded for Beckham and a tight end like Zach Ertz or Evan Engram, then they’d really be cooking with gas.

Beyond Trubisky, a few other worst-case scenarios I’ve heard mentioned for the Patriots would be Jacoby Brissett and A.J. McCarron (seriously). So, if you start at the absolute bottom of the barrel, then you can’t be disappointed with whichever QB the Patriots bring in to start.

If the Patriots did wind up with one of those bottom-tier QBs, then they could still trade up in the draft for a top quarterback or sit and wait for Mac Jones. Yahoo! Sports’ Eric Edhom interviewed former NFL coach June Jones for an interesting piece on Wednesday. June Jones has Mac Jones (no relation) as his No. 1 quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft over Zach Wilson (No. 2) and Trevor Lawrence (No. 3).

June Jones liked Mac Jones’ fundamentals and the fact that the Alabama QB completed an astounding 33-of-56 passes of over 20 yards (for 1,355 yards with 17 touchdowns and four drops) in 2020.

@TheHorntail
The cap is lower this year. Cam didn’t exactly inspire confidence last year. After no one offered him anything last year, is there any reason he would get a better contract this year?
If Cam has a similar contract as last year (& bring in a QB in the draft, I’m pretty high on Mac Jones, but whatever), then they can use extra available cap space to address run defense and pass rush (front 7) which I think was actually the weakest link in the ’20 @Patriots

Cost is the strongest case for bringing back Cam Newton. If the Patriots can get him on a similar deal to the contract he signed last offseason (they might need to pay him a little bit more), then they might also be able to sign an extra free agent with the spare cap room.

The other options aren’t significantly more expensive, though. Mariota would cost $11.4 million, and Garoppolo would be around the same after a contract restructure.

@mlip130
#maildoug what do you think we are gonna do with the 15th pick and is it possible we trade up

It’s definitely possible that New England trades up. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has traded up in the first round four times since 2000. He drafted tight end Daniel Graham, defensive lineman Ty Warren, defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont’a Hightower in those instances.

Conversely, the Patriots have traded down in the first round seven times and out into the following year’s draft twice. So, the Patriots more frequently are inclined to trade down or out, but they have moved up.

@floydianship
After seeing the SB dominated on both sides of the line, if no QB option is at 15, do you see the Pats drafting someone on the line?

There’s a case to be made for almost any position in the first round.

Quarterback: The Patriots’ most glaring need with only Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala under contract.

Wide receiver: Probably the Patriots’ second-most glaring need.

Tight end: The Patriots have received minimal production out of their tight ends for two straight seasons.

Offensive tackle: Isaiah Wynn can’t stay healthy and Marcus Cannon is no guarantee to be on the 2021 roster after opting out last season.

Guard: Left guard Joe Thuney is a free agent.

Center: David Andrews is a free agent.

Defensive line: Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler both are free agents, and run defense was a major issue last season.

Edge defender: The Patriots need a complete player who can rush the passer and stop the run in the mold of a Trey Flowers.

Linebacker: Dont’a Hightower is returning, but there are no guarantees on the roster behind him as Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings attempt to take second-year leaps.

Cornerback: Stephon Gilmore needs a pay raise or change of scenery. JC Jackson is a restricted free agent.

Safety: This one is a tougher sell after taking Kyle Dugger last season, but Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are both getting up there in age.

Running back: The Patriots seem set here with Damien Harris and Sony Michel. This is the only position that could really tick off Patriots fans.

@arivas91
Do you see the Patriots trading for any star player? #MailDoug

It’s definitely possible. Trading for players can be a more cost-effective way of shopping because it avoids paying out signing bonuses.

Let’s use Beckham as another example. If New England traded for Beckham, they would inherit his three-year, $45.75 million contract. That’s just $15.25 million per year. If the Patriots sign one of the top free-agent wideouts like Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller or JuJu Smith-Schuster, then their average annual cap hits will probably be around $17 million and higher because of the signing bonus New England would have to pay out.

Beckham’s signing bonus already was absorbed by the Giants. Now he’s just earning his salary, roster bonuses and workout bonuses.

Let’s go rapid fire.

@TB12BBGoat
What return the Pats can get for Gilmore?
Surprise cut?

I would guess a second-round pick.

It’s way too early to predict a surprise cut. We don’t even know who’s going to be on the team yet.

@TheRealRyanKent
Do you think a certain a former Patriot winning the Super Bowl will provide further motivation to Belichick to make the upcoming season successful?

I’m sure that Tom Brady’s Super Bowl win will provide extra motivation for Belichick, but I don’t really know how that will manifest itself. I don’t think Belichick wanted to lose before Brady won the Super Bowl.

@skippylongstal1
Does Matt Patricia run the defense this year? Will it be official and if so how will Mayo and Steve B. be affected?

It does not sound that way, no.

@jadium3
What 2020 practice squad player do you see most likely to contribute next year?

Do running back J.J. Taylor or cornerback Myles Bryant count since they started the 2020 season on the practice squad?

If not, then I think wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson and linebacker Rashod Berry both have potential.

@ShazyFifty
My question to u is would a future 1st plus the package No. 15, 46 a 2022 1st & 2nd pick be enough to trade with ATL for Zack Wilson? @DougKyed

That would be too much. It would cost the 15th overall pick and a future first or the 15th and 46th overall picks plus a third-round pick and something else.

@JefFullerMyself
I’ll give you some names, you tell me if you think they’re a Patriot in 2021:

Edelman
Hightower
Jimmy G
Cam Newton
McCourty Bros
Gilmore

Lastly give us your most surprising addition to the Pats this off-season.

#maildoug
Edelman: yes
Hightower: yes
Jimmy G: less than 50 percent chance
Cam Newton: unlikely
McCourty Bros: Devin yes, Jason maybe
Gilmore: yes

Most surprising addition? That’s tough to say. Right now. I’ll stick with the theme of this mailbag and say Beckham.

@thomasm41529545
What?s better for the pats a 180 mil cap or 185? I feel like 180 might be better since it might cause a team to cut a player they might not have to at 185

I’m with you as it relates to New England. The Patriots are going to have a lot of cap space, regardless. It’s almost better to lower everyone else’s space to give the Patriots an even bigger advantage.

I do hope the NFL raises the cap, however. Players shouldn’t be punished for the loss of revenue caused by COVID-19, and owners will more than make it up moving forward.

@JamesJohnRees
We are projected to have over $60m salary cap space but does that include the players that opted out last year? If so some of them could decide to opt out again or retire so our cap therefore would be even more? #MailDoug

Yes, the $60 million includes the opt-outs. The Patriots would free up even more cap space if those players are not on the roster in 2021.

@zacxwolf
Favorite food from each WDW park?

Magic Kingdom: Dole Whip
Hollywood Studios: Carrot cake cookie
Epcot: Rose & Crown
Animal Kingdom: Satu’li Canteen

Bonus:

Disneyland: Monte Cristo sandwich at Cafe Orleans
California Adventure: hand-dipped ice cream bars

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