The New England Patriots are now facing life without longtime quarterback Tom Brady. The six-time Super Bowl champion elected to take his talents to Tampa Bay this offseason, and the Patriots now have a hole to fill under center.
While many found it hard to believe Brady was seriously considering playing for a team other than the one that selected him with pick No. 199 in the 2000 NFL Draft, others were not surprised he wanted to explore other opportunities. One of those seemingly unbothered is former teammate Stephon Gilmore.
"Not surprised," Gilmore told ESPN's Mike Reiss when asked about Brady's departure. "A player like him, playing somewhere that long, you never can see it, but it shows you that in the National Football League it can be anyone going somewhere. It's a business, and that's how you have to look at it."
Despite the surplus of quarterbacks available on the open market, the Patriots haven't jumped at the opportunity to grab another prospective signal-caller. Cam Newton is still looking for a new NFL home, former Buccaneers quarterback and reigning passing champion Jameis Winston is also on the outside looking in, but the Patriots appear poised to move forward with what they already have on roster.
They signed a familiar face in Brian Hoyer this offseason, and also have Cody Kessler and Jarrett Stidham ready to compete for the starting job. The 23-year-old Stidham is considered by many to be the early favorite to take Brady's spot, and Gilmore also says he believes in him. In fact, he says that Stidham helped him improve in 2019.
"He came in and worked hard and got better and better as the year went on. He has a strong arm," Gilmore said. "He makes some tough throws. Definitely made it hard on me in practice each and every week, going against whoever I was covering, making some great throws. It allowed me to get better in practice to prepare for the games."
Stidham was the Patriots' fourth-round pick last season, and he had a solid career at Baylor and Auburn --completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 7,217 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in two-plus seasons as a starter. He threw passes in only two games last season, and completed 3 of 4 attempts for 14 yards. Stidham also threw one pick-six. Still, he made waves in the preseason last year during joint practices with the Detroit Lions, and could potentially upstage both Hoyer and Kessler.
It remains to be seen if the Patriots will add another quarterback to their roster or if they are truly confident in the three they have, but either way, Gilmore believes that with every season comes a "clean slate."
"You don't know what you have until you actually get there," Gilmore said. "Everybody, it's a clean slate right now. Everybody has to prove themselves, each and every year. No matter where you're at, it starts over every year."