For the first time in over 20 years, the New England Patriots will enter a regular season without Tom Brady as a quarterback on their roster. The six-time Super Bowl winner is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in one of the biggest free-agent signings in recent years. New England did not wait long to add a quarterback to their roster, as all they had left on the depth chart was Cody Kessler and Jarrett Stidham. When they announced the signing of Brian Hoyer, though, there was scant excitement in the fan base. The impact of the early days of free agency on the Patriots’ sports betting odds to win Super Bowl LV was dramatic, as they slid from 12/1 to 30/1, now even with Minnesota, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Let’s take a look at what the Patriots are facing heading into 2020 and their NFL Odds and Super Bowl Odds.
NFL: Latest Odds for New England to Win the Super Bowl after Free Agency Wave #1
What does the signing of Brian Hoyer mean for the Patriots? They still have cap room to add a starter. Andy Dalton seems available, as the Cincinnati Bengals seem locked in on drafting Joe Burrow. Cam Newton is definitely available, as the Carolina Panthers have inked Teddy Bridgewater to a deal. Jameis Winston is available — can you imagine if Brady and Winston just made a team swap? The last time two teams ended up swapping starting quarterbacks happened when the Broncos and Bears swapped Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler, a move that didn’t really help either team.
Hoyer comes to town on a one-year deal for $1.05 million. He’s not guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster. However, he could groom Stidham and Kessler, two young quarterbacks. Kessler had the misfortune of guiding the Cleveland Browns through a lost season back in 2016, while Stidham is still waiting for his first significant regular-season action.
Bringing in Hoyer as a sort of mentor seems to tell us what Bill Belichick has in mind — seeing what Stidham can do as a starter. If things go south, then the Patriots could make a move to get the likes of Trevor Lawrence for 2021. Stidham attempted four passes during the 2019 regular season, although there were other games when he could have entered to perform mop-up duties. One of those four passes was a pick-six, and we all know that Belichick does not like quarterbacks who turn the ball over.
Stidham did get some shots at the first-team offense while Brady had to reduce his practice reps due to an elbow injury for about five weeks. Hoyer and Stidham already had started to develop that sort of relationship last year. Stidham spoke highly of Hoyer to the media, talking about how Hoyer helped Stidham get ready for dealing with OTAs and preparing for media exposure.
However, remember that Stidham was the Auburn quarterback who led his team to regular-season wins over Alabama and Georgia. Georgia got revenge over Auburn in the SEC Championship that year, but Stidham has won on some fairly big stages. So there’s a lot of potential, not just mentally but physically, as he has a cannon arm and can also throw with precision.
With that said, the Patriots have some work to do with their offensive line. One reason why the Patriots struggled last year is that their O-line had a hard time opening up holes for the running game and protecting Tom Brady. Brady had to dump the ball off early, time after time, and those short plays helped the Patriots’ opponents get their defenses off the field. The games in which this was most apparent happened in the Patriots’ rout at the hands of Baltimore and their playoff loss to Tennessee, but their Week 17 home loss to Miami, which cost them the bye in the AFC playoffs, not only saw Miami complete a last-second comeback but also saw the Patriots struggle to move the ball at key moments. The Patriots made some additions up front last year, but injuries kept them on the sideline. Joe Thuney remains a free agent at left guard, and Ted Karras can play center and guard, but he could also depart via free agency.