Will the Patriots keep two or three quarterbacks?
That is one of the biggest questions looming as the team needs to get down to 53 players on its roster by Saturday at 4 p.m. The question is whether or not the team believes rookie Jarrett Stidham is capable of backing up Tom Brady, or if veteran Brian Hoyer should be kept around.
Typically, the Patriots carry two quarterbacks. There have been some exceptions like 2016 when Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett were kept. Three were also kept in 2011 when Hoyer and Ryan Mallett were kept along with Brady. The commonality with these has been having one of them being a rookie with Brissett and Mallett both being in their first year when there were three QBs on the roster.
Although, it’s worth noting only two were kept in Garoppolo’s rookie year, but he was a second-round pick.
History says the Patriots could keep two quarterbacks, but it also says they could keep three. There’s not much to read into there.
It’s clear the team likes what they have in both players. Hoyer has proven over the years how valuable he is, even though he’s a backup.
"He’s been great for us. He’s been great for Tom,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said earlier this week. “He’s done a nice job in the preseason, obviously. Brian knows our system, knows how to operate and function within the things we do. He throws the ball well and is an extremely hard-worker. Really smart. Great teammate and as good of a leader as I have seen as a backup quarterback that I have been around.”
And then there’s the fourth-round pick out of Auburn, who has done everything the team has asked, and has shown the potential to be a starting quarterback one day is there.
"He’s demonstrated toughness, he’s taken some hits. He’s been accurate when we’ve given him time to throw and generally speaking, he’s running the offense somewhat the way we would like him to run it,” said McDaniels. “There’s huge room for improvement. I don’t think there is a rookie in the National Football League after three preseason games that you wouldn’t say that about. Our goal is to try and get a little better every day with him.”
If nothing else was at play, it’s very likely all three quarterbacks would be kept, but there are other factors playing into things.
The Patriots have one of their deepest rosters in years where there’s no doubt players that are cut will immediately be picked up by other teams. This is where Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio have a tough decision to make.
Is it worth keeping Hoyer as insurance over a player such as a young and upcoming defensive player that has the chance to make an impact? Based on that, the answer is likely moving on from Hoyer.
But, there’s another layer.
The 42-year-old clearly loves working with Hoyer. While appearing on The Greg Hill Show Monday morning, Brady was asked about Stidham and instead Brady answered by praising Hoyer.
“As a young player he is getting a lot of opportunity and a lot of reps on the practice field as well as the game field and he’s doing a great job," Brady said. "He’s going to keep working just like everyone else.
"We have a very healthy, competitive quarterback group. Brian has had really a great offseason, a great camp. He’s real professional in every way. I love being in the room with Brian and what he adds to the group. Then when you have a young player like Jarrett, it is good to have the youth too and a lot of the excitement, and someone to carry our pads and give haircuts to. I think the haircut last week was one of the best things of last week, which I really enjoyed doing.”
Would Brady be upset if his close friend Hoyer was cut? Probably.
Would it potentially motivate and push him more like when Garoppolo was selected a few years ago? Probably.
There are many factors when it comes to deciding whether or not to keep Hoyer on the roster beyond this weekend. Certainly, he’s a great backup and would help the team, but potentially taking a roster spot away from a player who can make an impact may be prove too difficult for Belichick to go through with.
Simply, this was a long answer to a short question — the Patriots likely will keep just two quarterbacks.