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For the first time in 20 years, it’s hard to tell where the New England Patriots will sit in the AFC hierarchy.
With Tom Brady off to Tampa Bay, the Patriots are in uncharted territory at the quarterback position for the first time in two decades. Jarrett Stidham was the team’s fourth-round draft choice in 2019 and is still on the roster, and the team brought back Brian Hoyer ostensibly to compete for the position. But are the Patriots done adding to the position?
Regardless of who their quarterback is, there are still decisions to be made regarding who he will be throwing to. The New England offense sputtered at times because of a lack of receiving weapons for Brady. With the veteran now gone, surrounding the new quarterback with weapons will be even more important.
Here’s a look at the latest on possible answers to these questions about the Patriots roster moving forward.
Andy Dalton Trade Looking Unlikely
The Cincinnati Bengals are ready to move on from Dalton. With Joe Burrow set to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, their long-time quarterback is no longer necessary.
Conventional wisdom would say the nine-year vet makes some sense for New England. He could come in and give them 80 percent of Brady’s production and keep things going with the Patriots’ nasty defense carrying the team.
That doesn’t appear to be a direction the team is interested in, though.
According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports, New England isn’t interested in pursuing “mid-tier veteran quarterbacks.” Included in the article are Dalton, Marcus Mariota, Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater.
Considering all of those quarterbacks outside of the Bengals signal-caller already have new homes, the report checks out. The Patriots watched Mariota and Bridgewater sign elsewhere, and Foles was traded to Chicago for a fourth-round pick.
Dalton threw for 3,494 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 13 games for Cincinnati last year, while Stidham only registered four passes in the regular season.
As Mike Reiss of ESPN noted, though, the 23-year-old did have the best preseason of any rookie quarterback in the Bill Belichick era. The former Auburn Tiger threw for 731 yards on 61-of-90 passing and four touchdowns to one interception in four preseason games.
That’s obviously a long way from proving anything, but it does appear to be an indication the Patriots are willing to let Stidham battle it out with Hoyer for the right to be the starter next season.
Patriots Among Teams Interested in James Morgan in NFL Draft
The Patriots do have three quarterbacks on the roster with Cody Kessler, but that doesn’t mean they are done adding to the position.
Belichick’s team has shown it will draft a quarterback even if it seems set at the position. Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Mallett are all examples of this. With Stidham yet to prove anything, it’s still possible the Patriots use the draft to add another option.
Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported New England is one of many teams interested in Florida International quarterback James Morgan.
The 23-year-old is currently ninth on Matt Miller‘s quarterback rankings for the class.
The former Bowling Green signal-caller was popular with teams at the East-West Shrine Bowl in January. Analysts liked the skills he showed off at the all-star game:
Eric Edholm @Eric_Edholm
One of the most popular prospects at the @ShrineBowl has been @FIUFootball QB James Morgan
Has spoken with 26 NFL teams down there and has reportedly looked great
Banged up most of the season with an ankle, but has good size (6-4, 213) and traits
Rising prospect in Day 3 range
Morgan played through an ankle injury in his final season with the Panthers but still threw for 14 touchdowns to five interceptions. The production and level of competition might be question marks, but the quarterback has good size (6’4″, 229 pounds) and a quick release.
While the Patriots are sure to draw some speculation about the first-round quarterbacks, they may wind up simply scooping up Morgan on Day 3.
‘Not Yet Involved’ with XFL Tight End Donald Parham
With the XFL season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, players from the new league are now allowed to sign with NFL teams.
One prospect who figures to find his way onto an NFL roster is Donald Parham.
The 6’8″ tight end showcased good speed and an ability to get open in his time with the Dallas Renegades. He had the fifth-most receiving yards in the league and most for a tight end by a 174-yard margin.
Dallas Renegades @XFLRenegades
Takes a LOT of Guardians to bring down the 6-foot-8 Parham!
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The 22-year-old was a camp body for the Washington Redskins before the 2019 season after going undrafted out of Stetson University.
The Patriots are in need of a tight end. They struggled to recover from the loss of Rob Gronkowski last year, but they have yet to throw their hat into the ring for Parham’s services next year, per Doug Kyed of NESN:
Doug Kyed @DougKyed
6-foot-8 XFL TE Donald Parham has multiple offers from NFL teams, but the Patriots have not yet been involved, per source.
New England has stood pat when it comes to the position thus far in free agency. It’s possible it is looking to the draft to fill the need, but it isn’t a top-heavy class when it comes to the position. Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet is the highest-ranked tight end on Miller’s board at 46.
Parham should be on an NFL roster next season. His rare blend of size and athleticism makes him intriguing, and his success in the XFL makes him worthy of a long look from a tight end-needy team such as the Patriots.
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