Overview: Tom Brady heads toward his 42nd birthday as, despite what NBC analyst Chris Simms may think, one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. The competition this summer in Foxborough will be to decide who backs Brady up and how many roster spots are dedicated to the position.
Players (season #): Tom Brady (20), Brian Hoyer (11), Danny Etling (1), Jarrett Stidham (R)
Coaching: Josh McDaniels not only serves as offensive coordinator, but also continues in his role as quarterbacks coach. Mick Lombardi is expected to fill the void as assistant quarterbacks coach created with Jerry Schuplinski moving on to the Dolphins. Lombardi previously worked in the same job with the Jets and now will likely spend a lot of time with the young quarterbacks, specifically the fourth-round pick Stidham.
Competition: With only so many balls to go around in camp, the first question was whether Etling – who spent all last season on the practice squad and traveled with the team to road games – would make it to the summer practice field. Now it’s all about jockeying for roles behind Brady. Hoyer has his limitations as a veteran journeyman, but still provides a known commodity in case of emergency. Stidham will have to be ultra-impressive in practice and preseason action for Bill Belichick to go with him as the lone primary backup, a role that Jimmy Garoppolo earned as a rookie in 2014.
Prediction: Despite the value of roster spots and potential need for extra bodies elsewhere, smart money is probably on the Patriots keeping both Hoyer and Stidham behind Brady. Smart money is also on Brady being by far the best passer on the practice field this summer as he gets ready to make a run at a seventh Super Bowl ring.