At this point last year, it wasn't out of the question that Jarrett Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round pick out of Baylor, was the potential quarterback of the future of the New England Patriots because Bill Belichick raved about him. Alas, Stidham was not good in very limited action in 2020 and now may not have a long-term spot on the roster at all behind Cam Newton, first-round rookie Mac Jones and the recently re-signed veteran Brian Hoyer. Newton remains the SportsLine betting favorite to be the Week 1 starter.
The Patriots haven't kept four quarterbacks entering a season since 2000, and that fourth QB was Tom Brady.
Stidham saw action in five games last year but didn't start any of them. He was 22-for-44 for 256 yards, two TDs and three picks, a horrific rating of 54.7. His best chance of making an impact came in Week 4 in Kansas City when Newton was out in the COVID protocols. Hoyer started the game and was 15 of 24 for 130 yards and an interception (and strip sack) before getting benched in the second half.
Stidham led the Patriots to a touchdown to close the Chiefs' lead 13-10, but he also threw two interceptions, including a crushing pick-six. Kansas City won easily 26-10. Stidham did serve as the backup to Newton the rest of the season with Hoyer the No. 3. Stidham has thrown four interceptions and taken five sacks in just 48 career pass attempts.
Newton re-signed a one-year deal this offseason and is the -500 favorite via SportsLine oddsmakers to start Week 1 at home vs. the Miami Dolphins. The Pats opened as 2-point favorites at William Hill Sportsbook.
Presumably, Jones, the No. 15 overall pick out of Alabama, will open as the No. 2 and he's +300 to start the opener. "Somebody would have to play better than [Newton] does," Belichick said on April 29 in regards to starting Week 1. He didn't rule out Stidham, whose cap number this season is only $1.09 million. His contract has no guaranteed money.
ESPN's Bill Barnwell speculates the Jones' first start will come Week 5 at Houston – the week after the Pats host Brady and the Bucs. CBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan also mentioned Week 5 as a possibility. The Boston media has reported that Belichick prefers Jones sit and learn all season. William Hill lists Jones at +900 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Interesting that the 35-year-old Hoyer re-signed with the Pats because he had visited with the Jets as potentially serving as the No. 2 behind rookie No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. Obviously, there would be a quicker path to playing with the Jets than the Patriots. It's more likely Hoyer was signed simply to serve as a mentor to Jones, which would allow Newton to simply concentrate on the field.
Stidham surely would be snapped up if released as teams in need of a potential upgrade at backup QB include the Jets, Colts, Titans, Cowboys (Stidham is from the Dallas area), Giants, Vikings and Seahawks. Injuries also are bound to happen.
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