Several New England Patriots veterans have expressed confidence in Jarrett Stidham as the team's quarterback in the wake of Tom Brady's monumental departure in free agency, and that's a good thing. Because all indications are that the 23-year-old signal-caller will, in fact, be under center when the Pats open the 2020 season.

According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, New England's "1A" plan for this offseason appeared to be re-signing Brady. That obviously did not happen, with No. 12 now teamed up with Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers, so "1B" is now in effect: Rolling with Stidham. The Patriots understandably recognize that the second-year QB, a fourth-round draft pick out of Auburn, is an "unknown commodity" until he actually takes the field, but "barring unforeseen circumstances," Stidham has the "inside track" on Brady's old job.

Anyone could've guessed as much, even after the team's reunion with journeyman backup Brian Hoyer, a prospective training-camp placeholder in the starting job, per Howe. But what really stands out about Stidham's likely path to the Patriots' No. 1 QB spot is the team's evident disinterest in big-name alternatives. Both Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have been linked to New England (Newton is already a free agent, while Dalton has long been on the trading block), but Howe reports the Pats "have expressed no interest" in either, reiterating a previous report about Dalton failing to register on the team's radar.

One avenue, of course, that can't yet be ruled out for another QB possibility is the 2020 NFL Draft, which will proceed as planned -- albeit virtually -- on April 23-25. The Patriots currently own the 23rd overall selection in the draft, meaning they'll likely miss out on top prospects like Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love, but that's not to say they couldn't explore a trade up -- or a selection of another arm later in the weekend. Until then, according to Howe, it's likely to be Stidham and Hoyer opening the season in the first post-Brady Patriots season in two decades.