NFL: New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Remember Jarrett Stidham? This time last year, the rising sophomore quarterback was the topic of conversation around Foxborough as the Patriots had yet to do anything outside of the organization to truly solidify the position under center in the aftermath of Tom Brady leaving in free agency. Naturally, that led most to the assumption that the former fourth-round pick could, in fact, be the heir at quarterback for Bill Belichick. Well, a lot has changed in a calendar year. 

Later that summer, the Patriots signed Cam Newton, who then beat out Stidham for the starting job for the 2020 season. Stidham did see minimal action throughout the 2020 campaign with Brian Hoyer getting the lone start when Netwon was sidelined due to COVID. Fast forward to the present day and not only is Stidham still trying to leap over Newton as the Patriots' starter, but the team also drafted Alabama's Mac Jones with the No. 15 overall pick, signaling that he is the future at the position for the franchise. 

Despite those obstacles, Stidham told reporters Monday that his mission remains the same: become the Patriots' QB1. 

"My goal is to be the quarterback here and to start football games for a really long time in this league," he said. "The mindset of that has never changed. Never will change. But like I said, I'm going to continue to work as hard as I possibly can to really improve and continue to do what I need to do in order to get better and help this team."

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Of course, when a team does take a quarterback in the first round, it's widely assumed that he'll have every opportunity to grab ahold of the starting spot at some point and New England is likely no different with Jones. When asked what his reaction was when Jones was drafted -- as it virtually put a huge dent in any prospects of a long-term future with the team -- Stidham noted that it doesn't change how he prepares and seems to be embracing the challenge of competing against the rookie. 

"My approach doesn't change at all," he said of Jones' arrival. "Every day when I come in the building, my approach is to learn from the people around me -- obviously the coaches, the players that have been playing a long time in this league -- and learn as much as possible and continue to grow. With [the Patriots] drafting Mac, that hasn't really changed my approach. I can control what I can control and that's how hard I work, how prepared I am, and those things haven't changed." 

"It definitely fires me up," Stidham continued. "Last year bringing in Cam before training camp, that fired me up to continue to get better and continue to grow as a player, so definitely fired up to be competing against Mac, [Brian Hoyer], and Cam. It's a great room. It's a lot of fun to be in there, but yeah definitely fired up to compete against those guys." 

Stidham has yet to receive a start in the NFL but has made spot appearances over his first two years. Those glimpses haven't raised enough eyebrows to get Stidham into a position to start, but heading into his third season within Josh McDaniels' offense does bring with it even more familiarity, possibly setting himself up for more on-field success/opportunity.

"Going into Year 3, definitely feel a lot more within the offense," he said. "There are definitely things I'm still learning and really trying to master, but definitely feeling a lot more comfortable out there, which is good. Just want to keep learning as much as possible every day." 

Newton likely has the inside track at starting Week 1 and it's only a matter of time before the change is made in favor of Jones, but Stidham has impressed during these OTA and minicamp sessions thus far. If that continues, he could give Belichick a lot to think about heading into the regular season. In any event, the young quarterback isn't going away quietly.