As the preseason crystalized, it looked like Cam Newton was going to be the Week 1 starter for the New England Patriots, while first-round rookie Mac Jones was going to wait in the wings as QB2 and continue to develop. Well, on cutdown day in the NFL, Bill Belichick decided to throw a curveball in that assumption by reportedly releasing Newton, signaling that Jones has, in fact, ascended to starting status. With Jones solidified as QB1 and Newton now looking for a new club, it's fair to ask what the situation at quarterback looks like behind New England's newest signal-caller.
In-house, veteran Brian Hoyer looks situated as Jones' primary backup. The team did technically release him as they cut down its roster to 53 players, but that should be looked at as merely a procedural move with him returning to the team in short order.
Hoyer is arguably the best person suited to help Jones as he embarks on this rookie season. Outside of Tom Brady, he's the most experienced active quarterback in the NFL with New England's system. In all, he's spent six seasons with the Patriots that stretch over three different tenures. He was signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2009 out of Michigan State and played his first three seasons in the league behind Brady. After bouncing around the NFL, he returned in 2017 and stuck around with the club through the 2018 campaign. Hoyer then signed on with the Colts for the 2019 season, but found his way back to the Patriots in the spring of 2020 and has been with the team ever since.
In a Patriots uniform, Hoyer has completed 62.7% of his throws for 465 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
His experience in Josh McDaniels' offense does make him as solid of a mentor as you may find for Jones, who'll likely need someone to bounce terminology and schemes off of throughout the year.
Jarrett Stidham is another in-house quarterback that could eventually be a factor in being Jones' backup, but the 25-year-old is currently set to miss substantial time due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
If the Patriots do go off the board and ultimately look outside the organization for Jones' backup, Jacoby Brissett would be an intriguing name to follow if he were to shake loose from the Miami Dolphins. He's the last rookie quarterback to start for Bill Belichick back in 2016. If you want to go really off the board, Nick Foles would be a fun story if he were to find his way to Foxborough. He's a veteran quarterback that the Patriots know quite well has Super Bowl experience and could be a mentor to Jones as he develops.
Again, Hoyer is likely the backup here, but Belichick has already shown us that he'll zig when we expect him to zag, so nothing should be off the table quite yet as New England continues to shape its roster for 2021.
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