Now here's a move I did not see coming. In the words of the great Clark Griswold, "Surprised? If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be any more surprised than I am right now."
I suppose I shouldn't be. Every generation or so there comes a player that Bill Belichick just takes a shine to. A guy he signs, releases to free up a roster space, re-signs and then re-releases like Ben Affleck circling back to an old girlfriend. Back in the 2000s, it was O-lineman Gene Mruczowski. And every time I re-learned to spell his name he'd be gone again. In the 2010s, it was Ray Ventrone. Now it's Brian Hoyer. Belichick just has a thing for these guys whose names appear on the transactions list 10 times more than they do in box scores.
I guess I just assumed Hoyer's one start in his six years as a Patriot was plenty enough. His emergency start against Kansas City back in October pretty much looked like the end of the line for him in New England. As the Pats defense was doing heroes' work keeping the Chiefs out of the end zone for almost the entire first three quarters, Hoyer was going 15 for 24 for 130 yards, no scores, an interception and two wet brain sharts that killed drives well inside of field goal range. He was replaced in that one, and moved down the depth chart, never to see the field again. So it was reasonable to think he'd seen the end of the line in Foxboro. But instead he's back for an unprecedented fourth tour of duty. Go figure.
All of which begs a very obvious question. Before now it's been safe to assume that the only questions about the quarterback depth chart were "Who starts Week 1 and how soon does Mac Jones take over at QB1 permanently?" And regardless of how that shakes out, they'll hang onto Jarrett Stidham and keep working to develop him.
Yeah, about that.
Just going by process of elimination, we can immediately rule out keeping four quarterbacks. The only time they've ever done that was the 2000 season, and only because their 6th round pick that year gave them the impression that he was Football Moses. And they were right. If Stidham were that guy, by now we'd have some indication. He'd have turned his staff into a snake or made the Nile red or stopped Pharaoh's army with a pillar of fire sometime in the last two seasons instead of posting a career 46.4 passer rating.
At this time last year, I really unzipped and hung it out there for Stidham. He struck me as a guy who had all the tools. Came from a great program in Baylor before he noped out of there thanks to a scandal that he was not involved in, then transferred to Auburn that was a terrible system fit for him. It seemed to me that with the right coaching, he could realize the potential that had him projected to be a high 1st round pick had he stayed at Baylor. But if he was showing any of that, they wouldn't be shopping for a third string quarterback. Unless Stidham shows a superhuman Year 2-to-Year 3 jump, I just can't see a way he survives camp. Hoyer will have the triple duty of being the Pats last resort, and their practice team quarterback once again, as well as a trusted voice in the quarterback room to help accelerate Mac Jones' journey up his learning curve.
As for Stidham's future, maybe they can flip him for a late draft pick to some team with decent coaching who has the time and patience to work with him. But even that's a tall order for a guy who hasn't shown he's got the trust of the best staff in the league. It's probably not a question of if he's released, it's when. I just hope wherever he ends up, he'll finally earn the ridiculously over-the-top amount of faith I put in him. Those old posts from 2020 are not going to age well.