Bill Belichick praises Jarrett Stidham, keeps quiet about Tom Brady’s heir in NFL Network appearance

With Tom Brady out of the picture in New England, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is faced with a task he hasn’t had to deal with in a long time.

He has to find a new starting quarterback.

Yet in true Belichick fashion, the 68-year-old is keeping his cards close to his chest.

The Patriots have four quarterbacks on their roster, with Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer, J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke. While it’s still early — the season is still months away, and the COVID-19 pandemic could significantly alter the NFL schedule and delay the season — Belichick didn’t reveal much about the quarterback battle in New England during the NFL Network’s schedule release special on Thursday night.

“That’s where we are, and you never know what’s going to happen down the road,” Belichick said on the NFL Network. “But yeah, we feel like we have four good players there … like to work with all those guys and we’ll see how it goes.”

Hoyer is the most experienced quarterback at Belichick’s disposal. The 34-year-old has been in the league since 2009, though has bounced around between seven different teams while failing to ever solidify a starting job. He has played for the Patriots on multiple occasions, spending his first three years with New England before brief stints in 2017 and 2018, so he’s familiar with Belichick and his system.

The Patriots didn’t select a quarterback in the draft, but picked up Smith from Louisiana Tech and Lewerke from Michigan State. Both five-year college players went undrafted last month.

That leaves Stidham, who the Patriots took in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Auburn. The 23-year-old spent all of last season as Brady’s backup, appearing in only three games, and seemed to impress Belichick in the process.

“Stid worked really hard last year. He was our backup quarterback the entire season,” Belichick said on the NFL Network. “I know he’s working hard in the offseason. He’s made a lot of progress in terms of understanding our offense and understanding opponent defenses like all players do from Year 1 to Year 2.

“I’m sure he’ll get out there and be ready to go, be prepared, compete hard and we’ll see where it takes us.”

It could be a bit before Belichick reveals his next starting quarterback. The position change should provide a very entertaining storyline to follow heading into this fall.

More from Yahoo Sports: