Sunday 7: Jarrett Stidham shouldn’t completely be ruled out of Patriots’ QB plans

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

1. The Patriots’ options at quarterback for 2021 seem to be getting fewer by the day. And it’s for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t seem like they will be in on some of the bigger names available (based on reportedly only offering a second-round pick for Matthew Stafford) and then the likelihood of the top quarterbacks going before they select at No. 15 overall in April’s draft. One player who hasn’t been discussed at all this offseason is Jarrett Stidham. He will be in the mix this summer during training camp since he's still on his rookie contract, so shouldn’t he at least be in consideration when it comes to being the Patriots’ starter in 2021? Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week, James White brought Stidham up when asked about what the Patriots might do at the quarterback position. “Jarrett Stidham, he’s young, he’s talented. I am sure he’s chomping at the bit to get his opportunity,” White said. “I think he will be a guy that can get some things done. … He works hard. Strong arm, studies hard, prepares hard and it’s tough being a backup. He may not get many reps as he wants to, but he stayed motivated throughout that entire season. He got to play sometimes towards the end of games. He’s a young guy excited to get out there. You want to play those four full quarters and get your opportunity. I am sure he’s working hard this offseason to prove that he can do that.” Adding a cheap veteran along with a player in the middle of the draft would allow the team to spend more in other areas, like adding some real weapons to the offense. That would likely set up a true quarterback competition next summer and with his experience in the system, Stidham could potentially earn the job. While it might not be the most popular theory, do not totally rule out Stidham when it comes to the Patriots’ plans for 2021.

2. Appearing on Mut at Night this week, NFL Draft expert Matt Miller brought up a good point relating to the Patriots at No. 15 overall. With so many teams being in the quarterback market, teams could reach for players at that position ahead of them, so the team could get a steal at another position when they are on the clock in Round 1. Obviously, a pass catcher would be at the top of the list and some names who could fall to them include tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. If the Patriots add a veteran QB during free agency, it has the potential to play out very well for them come April's draft.

3. One observation from Super Bowl interviews this week was how relaxed Tom Brady seemed. It’s worth asking the question: has this year been the most relaxed he’s ever been as a player? Playing for Bruce Arians is obviously a lot different than Bill Belichick and then it also feels like he has nothing to lose in the game Sunday night. Tampa Bay really wasn’t expected to get this far and if he loses, so what? He’s still the greatest quarterback in NFL history and he would lose to Patrick Mahomes, arguably the best quarterback in the game right now. Playing care free could be a good thing for Brady and the Bucs.

4. Although Rob Gronkowski has been quiet in the playoffs, just two catches, keep an eye on him against the Chiefs. In four Super Bowl games, Gronkowski has 23 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns -- and that includes just two catches for 26 yards in Super Bowl XLVI vs. Giants. Also, in the meeting between the two teams earlier this season, Gronkowski had six receptions for 106 yards. "I know for both of us we rely on each other a lot for different things,” Brady said this week. “I will be looking for him this Sunday, so that’s the most important thing.”

5. For all the backlash Belichick has received this week, just remember the Patriots are in unchartered territory with the fourth-most cap space in the league this offseason and the No. 15 overall pick. The ammunition is there to make big changes/additions, so what will these people be saying next year if the Patriots make the playoffs? Who will get the credit then? Just because he had one bad season, it doesn’t mean his previous 20 years of success didn’t exist.

6. Speaking of Belichick, it was interesting that Gronkowski said he hasn’t communicated with him since joining the Buccaneers. It’s worth wondering where that relationship stands and if Belichick is still upset following the tight end waiting until late in the 2018 offseason to announce his retirement and then coming out of it a year later to play with Brady in Tampa Bay.

7. With the 2020 season officially coming to an end Sunday night with Super Bowl LV, what’s next on the NFL calendar? Beginning on Feb. 23, teams can start using the franchise/transition tag on players, which runs through March 9. And then with no NFL Combine this year, this means after that the next thing to look forward to is free agency. Beginning March 15, clubs can begin contacting free agents during the legal tampering period and the new league year officially begins on March 17 at 4 p.m.