The Patriots need a quarterback this offseason.
In fact, they might need more than one.
The entire NFL knows this, and something that hasn’t been discussed as much as it should is the timing of when they add their next quarterback is a tough position to be in.
There isn’t a clear-cut top target for the team, besides maybe Jimmy Garoppolo and even then it’s unclear if he will even be available. So, it’s not like there is a free agent everyone is connecting to the Patriots.
To that point, what are free agent pass-catchers thinking when considering signing in New England?
“There is one other thought from those around this situation that timing is important for [the Patriots] to get a quarterback for the start of free agency so if they are out recruiting a top receiver or a top tight end, that player knows who might be throwing them the football, so that aspect is part of this conversation as well,” ESPN’s Mike Reiss said Monday on “Get Up.”
It makes some sense for them to add a QB at the start of free agency so they have a name in place when it comes to recruiting free agents. But, the problem with that is, what if a better option becomes available later in the offseason, like during the draft?
What if the team commits to a free agent, whoever it may be, and then for whatever reason Justin Fields or Trey Lance falls all the way to No. 15 in the draft? What if it commits to a free agent and then a better option suddenly becomes available around the draft? It’s certainly possible given how much quarterback movement is expected to take place this offseason.
This is why it makes sense for the Patriots to give themselves flexibility at the position.
While it may not be the most popular option, signing a veteran free agent, who isn’t necessarily a lock to be the starting quarterback, but yet would be able to start for the team if needed, may be the option that makes most sense. Some potential names that come to mind are: Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jacoby Brissett.
Not a ton of cap space would be committed to any of those names, so if a better name were to come along, signing or drafting that player would not be an issue.
On the flip side, what if another player doesn’t become available? Then the Patriots could be stuck with an average veteran as their starting quarterback for 2021.
Jarrett Stidham certainly remains in the mix and so does adding a rookie in the middle-to-late rounds in the draft. So in that scenario, there would be a quarterback competition between those two players and whatever veteran free agent were to be brought in.
And isn’t that the most likely scenario?
While everyone is hyping up all the potential big names changing teams this offseason, are the Patriots even in the mix for any of them? The best-case scenario at this point is likely Garoppolo or drafting a player at No. 15 overall.
This is another reason why it makes sense to remain flexible. If there was an obvious name available, it would be all about doing what it takes to get that player. Since there isn’t, it makes sense to do whatever possible to get the best option available, knowing that best option might not be in March and could be a month-plus later around the draft.
Not only are the Patriots trying to find the best option at the position, they are also battling the timing aspect in order to accomplish that.