The Patriots have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Is the sky falling? No, but you wouldn’t know it with the way folks in New England are acting. It became second nature to roll into the postseason around these parts, spending two decades as the usual No. 1 or 2 seed in the AFC and having pretty much secured a spot in the conference championship game. It doesn’t seem like that will be the case any time soon, though.

It’s a new era in New England, in case you haven’t heard.

The Patriots are hoping to get back to being legitimate postseason contenders, and it likely will start by selecting a signal-caller with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Is that the best course of action, though?

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Let’s take a look at how the starters for each of last season’s postseason teams were acquired and find out, shall we?


Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams: LA and Detroit made this one easy on us, having not only matched up in the NFC side of the bracket last season, but acquiring their starters via the same trade. Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff were traded for one another back in 2021, with the Lions receiving two first-rounders and a third-round pick in addition to the latter QB.

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The Rams immediately won the Super Bowl with their upgraded signal-caller. The Lions are set up for much more success moving forward, though, with Goff looking like he’ll be leading the way alongside the stars produced from those extra picks. Win-win.


Buffalo Bills: Buffalo took Josh Allen with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. It took a few years, but he figured it out and the Bills have run the AFC East for the last several seasons.

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Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, now that we have the benefit of hindsight, should have been the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He wasn’t. He lasted until No. 10 and Kansas City traded up for him. It’s safe to say it worked out.

Miami Dolphins: Miami took Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 pick a few years back. He’s an unquestioned starter, having led the Dolphins to back-to-back playoff appearances, but there’s a question if he’s maximizing their window.

Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud is an anomaly. He was taken with the No. 2 overall pick last year and had the greatest rookie quarterback season we’ve ever seen.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh is the first “eh” team here, because neither of the guys who led them to the postseason last year are still on the team. Mason Rudolph, who ultimately started the playoff game, was taken to be a backup. Kenny Pickett was supposed to be the starter, but turned out to be an immediate bust after being selected with the No. 20 pick two years ago.

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Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott turned out alright, but he was never supposed to be more than a backup. You never expect a fourth-round guy to become the starter, but he did that immediately and has proven to be one of the better quarterbacks over his near-decade in the league.

Green Bay Packers: The Packers drafted Jordan Love with the No. 26 pick in 2020, forced him to sit for a few seasons and unleashed him to tremendous results in 2023. It’s just what Green Bay does.

Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts is similar to Prescott, where the idea was to bring him in as a backup and eventually develop into someone who could compete to start. Hurts only needed a year to find his way into the starting lineup and has exceeded most expectations.

Free Agency

Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson is the priciest quarterback on this list, having been acquired for three first-round picks and immediately inking a record contract extension following his trade from Houston. He wasn’t even the guy who started Cleveland’s playoff loss, though! Joe Flacco, who signed late in the season on a veteran minimum contract, was the Browns’ starter as they clinched a postseason berth. It went horribly, they got destroyed, he left and Watson is back under center.

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Cleveland’s now stuck paying Watson, who has looked like a shell of his former self since arriving.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady was incredible as a free-agent addition, and Baker Mayfield hasn’t been bad, either. Tampa Bay built up its roster with tremendous young talent over the course of several seasons, and has dropped two very different QBs onto the roster to postseason success. If you’re going to sign someone, it should be done this way.

The Verdict: The Patriots already signed Jacoby Brissett in free agency, but it’s been made clear that he’s not expected to be the long-term starter. It’s too late to make an impact trade for a starter. If the Patriots hope to find the quarterback of the future this off-season, it’ll come on Thursday or it won’t come at all.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images