• Crissy Froyd

What does the Patriots' QB situation look like heading into 2020?

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

It's a pair that seemed unnatural to break up, but with Brady departed to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, we'll see a new quarterback taking snaps for the team.

The Patriots punted on taking a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, indicating they'll most likely be moving forward with the guys currently on the roster.

Why is that, and who do the Patriots have to work with?

Here's a look into both of those questions.

Brian Hoyer

Hoyer has the edge in terms of experience, more seasoned than all three of the Patriots' other quarterbacks combined -- and it's not close whatsoever.

Heading into his 13th NFL season having played previously for the Patriots, Cardinals, Browns, Texans Bears, 49ers and Colts, the veteran is who Mike Giardi of NFL Media sees taking first-team reps if the team were to open practices now.

"I think Bill (Belichick) — I think they like Stidham. I think Stidham hasn’t proven to them — obviously how could he? — that he’s ready," Giardi said. "So I think it’s going to be incumbent upon him to beat out whoever the other quarterback is, whether it is Brian Hoyer or they make a commitment to Cam Newton."

Hoyer has been forced to compete with former Auburn signal-caller Jarrett Stidham for a role before, and didn't survive roster cuts. The Patriots intended to re-sign him, but he instead signed a three-year, $12 million with the Colts.

Based on how things have worked out for him lately, it's hard to see Hoyer sliding into a true starting role for a long period of time ever again.

Jarrett Stidham

The ability to be a quick learner and pick things up is important for a young quarterback transitioning to the NFL.

Stidham has apparently learned the offense at an incredibly fast pace, according to running back Rex Burkhead, who is heading into his fourth NFL season.

I think that is what struck me, how quickly he picked up the offense from the get-go," Burkhead said in a WEEI report. He’s out there making calls, making adjustments in audibles like he has been in this system for a while."

Stidham goes through his progressions well, has the ability to look defenders off with his eyes and has solid anticipation and footwork -- all good things for the Patriots.

His first season in New England wasn't perfect, but he did show flashes in what time he did see the field, drawing comparisons to other quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo.

Stidham himself said ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft that he had some key things to brush up on after appearing to regress toward the end of his career with the Tigers.

“There’s definitely times last year where, for whatever reason, I just decided to get out of the pocket when I shouldn’t have or just didn’t trust my eyes or my feet,” he said.

It will be interesting to see how he progresses if handed a larger role this year -- we need to see Stidham take more in-game snaps before we can begin to get an idea of what his ceiling is.

Bottom Line

It seems the Patriots like what they have in Stidham, who is signed to a four-year deal worth $3.15 million.

But how much does cap space have to do with all of this?

The Patriots have less than $2 million left in cap space. They'll need that to ink rookies to contracts, and might even have to clear up some more space to get that done. So, simply put, the team is in a tight spot financially right now.

What does that translate to?

New England doesn't have the money to bring on a veteran quarterback right now. There are some ways around this, but situation economically is what it is, and regardless of how sold the team is on Stidham's long-term future with them, money plays a role.

The Patriots also have undrafted rookies J'Mar Smith (Louisiana Tech) and Brian Lewerke (Michigan State) in the mix, both of which will hope to land a spot on the practice squad.

Expect the Patriots to start Stidham this season, while Hoyer serves as a seasoned mentor. Depending on how Stidham fares, the Patriots could invest in another player at the position when they have more cap space next year.

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