With all the talk in recent days being centered around the future of the New England Patriots and whether or not Tom Brady will play next season, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels must take a look into the future and select their next QB in the draft next week. Jimmy Garoppolo was dealt away last season and there was no way the Patriots could afford to pay two QB’s the kind of money Jimmy was deserving of, nor would Garoppolo want to wait it out on Brady over the next few years and play second-fiddle.
Now let me set the record straight by saying Brady isn’t retiring, at least not yet. The soon-to-be 41-year-old is just spending more time with his wife and family and unwinding after a grueling season that ended with a heart-wrenching defeat. Brady has skipped out on voluntary team activities in the past and now he’s simply taking more time for himself and his family. It also helps him with leverage over the Head Coach with new contract aspirations and a desire to get his guy Alex Guerrero back in the building to draw this out and have Bill cave to his demands. I fully expect 2-3 more years out of the greatest Quarterback to ever play the game.
That said, after Brady, the Patriots don’t have a succession plan at the most critical of positions. New England has to avoid being the Dolphins post-Marino and fall into a rut of mediocrity. They have to plan for the future and that begins with Josh Rosen. New England is reportedly very high on the former UCLA Quarterback and the intelligent QB could learn a thing or two backing up Brady over the next few years, then step in when the time is right. Like Brady, Rosen has incredible footwork in the pocket and can move around without caving into the pressure and still keep a locked target on his receivers. Rosen is a very accurate passer who can throw his guys open and like Brady, put excellent touch on the football and hit guys on their back shoulder with ease. In 30 career games for UCLA, he completed 61% of his passes with 59 TD’s and 26 interceptions.
With Rosen, the Patriots would also get a backup QB at the first round rate and locked in for four-years with the fifth-year option for a first rounder, giving Brady plenty of time to keep playing if he so chooses without any real urgency to make the move to the next guy. McDaniels can work with Rosen and groom him behind Tom, like he did with Jimmy, and when called upon he will be ready to play at an elite level. The question here is whether or not Rosen falls into the Patriots range to move up and draft him.
The Cleveland Browns are expected to take a QB first overall as are the New York Jets with the third selection. If the Browns take Josh Allen, like many experts are hearing, that would leave Sam Darnold ripe for the picking. The Giants hold all the cards here at No. 2, because if they take Darnold then Rosen will surely come off the board to the Jets and it will leave Baker Mayfield who another QB-needy team like the Bills will move up for. However, if the Giants pass on a QB at 2, the Jets will take Darnold at 3 and that could open the door for Rosen to slip later in the top-10, leaving a window for the Patriots to capitalize and swing a deal to move up and get their next Quarterback.
The San Francisco 49ers who hold the 9th overall selection are the one’s to keep an eye on here. We know the close working relationship that Bill Belichick and John Lynch share, so that opens the possibility for New England to orchestrate a deal to move up. They could probably package both of their first rounders (23rd & 31st overall) for the 9th overall selection and call it a day considering the deal Bill gave Lynch and Kyle Shanahan on the Jimmy G trade. The Patriots would have their next QB in-waiting in Rosen who is developing behind Tom Brady who finishes off his illustrious career.
The Patriots may not want to sacrifice draft capital to move up, but at the QB position if you think you have your next franchise guy you can never give up too much in any deal. If Rosen isn’t available, I still fully expect the Patriots to take a signal-caller in one of the earlier rounds be it Mason Rudolph, Kyle Lauletta or Luke Faulk.
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