Steven Senne/Associated Press
Tom Brady’s replacement will most likely be a quarterback already on the New England Patriots roster.
Jarrett Stidham, Cody Kessler and Brian Hoyer, all of whom are on inexpensive deals, are the three signal-callers the Patriots employ. The combination of trust in Stidham, Hoyer’s veteran leadership and minimal salary-cap availability have forced the Patriots into this option.
Even after kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s release, the Patriots do not have much room to bring in a big name at any position.
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ESPN’s Mike Reiss said on NFL Live on Wednesday it is “highly, highly unlikely” the Patriots add another veteran option at quarterback.
Reiss went into further detail about the constraints that are preventing the Patriots from bringing in another experienced signal-caller:
“You can follow the finances for the reason why. The Patriots are extremely close and tight to the salary cap. They have $26 million in dead cap space, so they have their three quarterbacks, with Stidham right now the top player on the depth chart.“
Dalton, Newton and free agent Jameis Winston would all come with a prices that the Patriots would not be able to meet.
The Bengals quarterback is scheduled to make $17.7 million in 2020, but he is likely going to be relegated to a backup role if the Bengals take LSU’s Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. Newton earned eight figures in each of the past four seasons as the starter for the Carolina Panthers.
Winston, meanwhile, is coming off a season in which he made $20.2 million. A deal for him would likely cost a decent amount since he was the NFL’s leading passer in 2019.
Although Stidham does not have experience as a NFL starting quarterback, the Patriots are willing to put trust in him. In the worst-case scenario, the Patriots could turn to Hoyer since he has 38 starts in 69 appearances.
New England could still add to the depth chart in the 2020 NFL draft, but Stidham appears to be No. 1, with Hoyer sitting there as a safety net if the second-year man struggles.
Since the move was not strictly salary-related, the Patriots are looking to move on from a kicker who was with the franchise since 2006.
Gostkowski only appeared in four games in 2019. It was the second season in his career in which he missed games. The 36-year-old converted on 98.3 percent of his extra points and 87.4 percent of his field goals during his 14-season tenure with the AFC East side.
New England does not have a kicker on its roster, and there few options left on the market after Greg Zuerlein signed with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Patriots used Nick Folk, Kai Forbath and Mike Nugent while Gostkowski was injured last season. Forbath could be viewed as surplus in Dallas after Zuerlein inked a deal, while Folk and Nugent are free agents.
Given their cap constraints, it could make the most sense for the Patriots to use a late-round draft pick on a kicker. Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship and Utah State’s Dominik Eberle are among the best kickers in this year’s class.
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