The post-Tom Brady era is finally here just not in the way most New England Patriots fans envisioned. Instead of staying in New England and retiring there (something he could still do) Brady has decided to take his talents to sunny Tampa Bay, Florida leaving a team and fan base stunned. With limited options, we take a look at four ways the Patriots can go from here as they embark on the post-Brady era.
1. Roll with what they have
Cody Kessler and Jarrett Stidham. The only two quarterbacks on the roster. One a journeyman backup who looked unimpressive with his chances to start (granted they were in Cleveland and Jacksonville) the other an unproven second-year player. While the hope is Stidham is the future is he ready to be the present? If the Patriots decide to roll the dice on what they have and that’s the case it’s Kessler or bust and while I have no doubt Kessler would do better then he did in both Cleveland and Jacksonville he has a ceiling. That ceiling is substantially lower than the New England norm.
2. Famous Jameis
The other hard part about the Brady departure is the timing of it. Top free-agent quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Phillip Rivers are off the market along with journeymen and suitable starters Case Keenum and Chase Daniel. Even often criticized Marcus Mariota is signed. What options does that leave in way of experienced starting quarterbacks on the open market? Jamies Winston. Mr. 30 interceptions is about the best on the market and that’s worrisome. Sure he’s shown flashes and maybe head coach Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (who managed to make Tim Tebow a playoff winning quarterback) could harness it or worst case limit the interceptions it’s hard to imagine him as a Patriot. Winston’s off-field antics don’t fit the mold of a Patriot. But maybe, just maybe the mold might have to be broken.
3. The Trade Market
Panthers Cam Newton and the Bengals Andy Dalton are the top two quarterbacks on the trade market and both come with baggage. Newton has a history of injury and a big contract while Dalton has yet to win a playoff game. At a glance, Newton makes the most sense. He’s a proven quarterback who has won at a high level but the fact that his latest season injury was his throwing shoulder there will rightfully be some concern. Not to mention he’ll have about as many weapons as he did at Carolina something that led to a lot of his injury woes. For Dalton, his inconsistent play and lack of meaningful wins mainly in the postseason could be a turnoff but at this point, especially if the goal is still to contend what other options are there?
4. The Rebuild Begins
The fourth and final option might be best. With the league’s oldest roster and the face of it now gone it might be best for the long haul to hit the reset button. We saw this in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks after Dirk Nowitzki retired and the same with the Los Angeles Lakers after the late Kobe Bryant did the same. The Patriots currently sit at pick 23rd in next month’s draft and should be in a position to pick either Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm or Jordan Love if they don’t move up. Shipping out older veterans for assets akin to what division foe Miami Dolphins did might not be the worse move. Not only do you get more picks but you can figure out which young guys you can build around. Whether Belichick wants to be apart of it is the question.
A new era in Patriots football has begun and not matter what direction they go one thing is for sure, it’ll be an interesting watch.