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Almost a month after Tom Brady left, Patriots have done a masterful job keeping QB plan a secret

Frank Schwab
·3 min read
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Even for Bill Belichick, who has turned saying nothing into an art form, this is impressive.

On March 17, Tom Brady announced he was leaving the New England Patriots. The Patriots acknowledged Brady’s departure, saying nice things about their six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback. And whoever took over for Brady was going to be in the middle of a storm. Along with Brady starting over with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots moving on with a new quarterback is going to be one of the biggest stories of the 2020 season.

Almost a month has passed since Brady made that announcement, and we still have no definitive idea what the Patriots plan to do at quarterback. There are educated guesses, mostly surrounding second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, but they always include “seems” or “appears to be.”

In this age of information, with teams strategically leaking news to their favorite reporters seconds after any significant transaction, the Patriots’ secrecy is actually kind of remarkable.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick steps away from the podium after taking questions from reporters last year. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick steps away from the podium after taking questions from reporters last year. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Latest Patriots speculation: They love Justin Herbert

A small nugget in the weekly column of NBC Sports’ Peter King got some attention Monday morning. It was in regards to what the Patriots could do in the first round.

“They love Justin Herbert, but enough to trade up for him?” an anonymous “rival general manager” told King.

Let’s ignore for a second that the Patriots would have a hard time putting together enough draft capital to move up to the top five, where Herbert could be taken (it’s hard to imagine the Los Angeles Chargers passing him at No. 6). Based on any reputable draft value chart, the Patriots’ entire cache of draft picks this year isn’t enough to move into the top five, nor is this year’s first-round pick and next year’s first if it’s outside of the top 20. Never say never, but it doesn’t seem realistic.

No, that’s not where you need to suspend belief. It’s the thought that somehow, the most secretive team in the NFL, who haven’t publicly offered one clue on who will be their Week 1 starting quarterback, somehow have played their love of Herbert so loose that a rival general manager found out.

Sure.

Nothing definitive on Pats’ QB plan

If you browse through the offseason headlines from outlets that cover the Patriots, there has been a lot of coverage of Tom Brady and his new team. And there has been virtually nothing substantial on the Patriots’ quarterback situation.

Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi said on his podcast the Patriots will give 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham “every chance,” but also said there’s “no doubt they could easily go out and sign Cam Newton,” so that doesn’t tell us much. Brian Hoyer signed with the Patriots and would have turned down more money elsewhere because New England will give Hoyer a chance to compete for the starting job, his agent told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, but that’s far from a proclamation that Hoyer will be the starter.

The Athletic said the Patriots have shown no interest in signing Newton or trading for Andy Dalton. Teammates have said nice things about Stidham and while it certainly seems Stidham is the team’s Plan A by default, compliments don’t constitute an announcement.

The NFL has constant attention year-round, and there is endless information for fans to consume. We seem to know practically everything. Yet the Patriots are replacing perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time and we’re not certain what their plan is.

Only Belichick and the Patriots could pull that off.

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