Patriots moves offer clue as to what plan is at quarterback


The Patriots have obviously made a ton of moves over the last two days and have made their team better for 2021, but there’s still one big question looming.

Who is the quarterback?

Right now, there’s Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala in the quarterbacks room and based on a few things, including what Newton signed for, it would appear the Patriots are not satisfied and done at the position.

So, what’s the plan?

Based on the last week or so, it feels the Patriots will be targeting a rookie high in the draft to pair with Newton, similar to what the Dolphins did last season with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa.

Or, they will end up trading with the 49ers for Jimmy Garoppolo.

As has been speculated all offseason, Garoppolo seems to be plan A, but there is no guarantee the 49ers will be willing to part ways with the quarterback. So, the Patriots need to have a plan B, which is where the draft comes in.

Both options involve the moving of draft picks.

In order to land Garoppolo in a deal, draft picks would need to be exchanged and the same goes for landing a quarterback high in the draft. Selecting at No. 15 overall, it’s hard to imagine any of the top four quarterbacks sliding that far down. Furthermore, it feels like their targets will be Justin Fields and Trey Lance, not Mac Jones (more on that later), so a trade up would need to be made.

Looking at the Patriots’ roster, as of Tuesday night they only have 14 spots left available and will have nine draft picks. The math just doesn’t add up. Sure, players can be cut between now and then, but more players will be added.

It feels like the Patriots are setting themselves up to punt on the draft and use multiple draft picks in a trade — either to move up for a QB, or to give San Francisco for Garoppolo. It just doesn't make sense to be so aggressive in terms of moves only to go into the season with Newton as the only option.

Another thing along those lines is the players the Patriots have brought in over the last few days are fairly young. They are either entering or in the prime of their careers. It’s not like these players are in their 30s with only a few years left and the Patriots have an older roster that needs to look to get younger via the draft.

That is not the case, so the Patriots can afford to “pass” on the 2021 draft.

It’s also worth looking into what the team looks like and it’s centered around running the ball and playing defense. The acquisition of Trent Brown last week indicated the team was trending towards a run-first offense and the moves since have played that out.

While wide receivers were added, the biggest in the passing game were tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Doesn’t it seem like having the top options in the passing game being tight ends make it better for a rookie quarterback? In addition, there are reports the team is interested in adding a running back, which furthers the narrative of centering the offense around running the ball.

It's also a better offense for Newton, which seems a lot more geared towards his skillsets than a year ago.

Also, the investment in Matt Judon and others on defense seems to indicate the team wants to get better on that side of the ball and be able to lead the team to victories.

Run the ball and play good defense seems to be the motto for 2021.

This is also where Newton and Fields/Lance come into the picture. A run-first offense seems more geared towards these players compared to Jones, who is more of a pocket passer. It also makes sense for Newton to mentor them since he shares a similar playing style. Jones learning from Newton just doesn't seem to make much sense.

Exactly how a Newton/rookie combo would work out remains to be seen, as it really would depend on how long it takes the rookie to get comfortable. It could be a few weeks, but it also could be most of the season.

The Patriots haven’t come out and said it, but reading in between the lines it certainly feels like they are setting themselves up to use their draft picks in a deal to land their quarterback of the future, whether it is Garoppolo or Fields/Lance.

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