Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
The New England Patriots have won the AFC East every season since 2009 and haven’t finished below .500 since 2000. One league source believes this will be the year that changes that drastically, per The Athletic’s Mike Sando.
As the franchise looks to move on from quarterback Tom Brady, Sando spoke to an AFC evaluator who is “worried” the team is set to tank in 2020 in hopes of landing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 draft.
The Patriots notably did not select any quarterbacks in the NFL Draft this year, despite an obvious need.
Instead they seem content at the moment with a depth chart that features Jarrett Stidham ahead of Brian Hoyer. The team did sign undrafted free agents J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke, but they’ll have to make the team first before competing for snaps becomes a possibility.
Lawrence, on the other hand, is already pegged as a top pick next year after what’s already been a stellar career at Clemson. The sophomore has passed for 6,711 yards, 66 touchdowns and 12 inceptions in two seasons along with nine rushing scores. That’s led him to winning the College Football Playoff Championship offensive MVP in 2018, with back-to-back appearances in the title game.
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After finishing seventh in Heisman voting last year, Lawrence is likely the favorite to win the award in 2020.
There are few teams who wouldn’t want a prospect with those credentials, yet New England may already have its heir to Brady’s throne.
“People around the league can’t help but think of some great Patriots conspiracy that they’ll trade up for a quarterback,” an AFC pro scout told Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. “First it was Baker [Mayfield], then it was Tua. Spoiler alert: They really like Stidham.”
Arguably no team in the league has done a better job at hiding their plans over the last two decades than the Patriots. Tanking would seem to go against the win-at-all-costs mentality that’s led them to six Super Bowl titles.
Yet without Brady, anything is possible. Even reversing the Patriot Way for a new approach.
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