Tom Brady is fresh off his sixth Super Bowl championship – the only player in the history of the sport with that many rings.
He threw for 4,355 yards and 29 touchdowns while completing 65.8-percent of his passes this season — not good enough for MVP, but certainly nothing to scoff at either. That said, he looked like an MVP during his fourth-quarter and overtime scoring drives in Kansas City during the AFC Championship Game.
With his age 42 season approaching, the guy can still play. He’s also said on multiple occasions that he wants to play until he’s 45 years old. That could mean — in his eyes, anyways — four more seasons of high-level quarterback play.
Will that all be for the New England Patriots? There’s no reason right now to think otherwise. Brady currently is set to enter the final year of his contract with the Pats, but team owner Robert Kraft told reporters days before the Super Bowl that he’d be surprised if Brady wasn’t quarterbacking them for “quite a while”. Just how long, we aren’t sure, but we can assume Brady won’t go into the 2019 season without an extension.
Currently, the Patriots backup is Brian Hoyer, respected amongst his teammates and around the league, but turning 34 years old in October, isn’t someone who is part of the Brady replacement plan.
As we came to find out, neither was Jacoby Brissett or Jimmy Garoppolo, both traded away as Brady continued (and still continues) to defy time.
So, as the NFL Draft approaches with the Patriots having 12 picks, we’re faced with a familiar question:
Should the Patriots draft a quarterback for the future? Here are the three draft day scenarios, from most likely to least likely:
Most Likely: They don’t draft a quarterback this year
There are a few reasons this is most likely. Last year’s draft had a number of talented quarterbacks in the first round, and others with some promise in the following rounds. The Pats didn’t bite.
The 2020 NFL Draft also already looks like a quarterback-heavy draft with three quarterbacks mocked to go in the top-5 — Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, and Justin Herbert — and would line up better with the Pats grooming their next franchise quarterback under Brady.
This year’s draft is scarce on potential franchise quarterbacks, too. New England would more likely use their picks to draft players that can help them repeat as Super Bowl champs, or trade those picks into next year’s draft with the intention of packaging those picks to move up and draft their next franchise quarterback. Imagine that?!
Potentially: A promising quarterback slips to them in the middle rounds
The Patriots have the 32nd pick in the first round this year. They know Ohio State’s Dwyane Haskins isn’t falling, and Oakland Athle— excuse me, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray will probably be scooped up too. But the Pats are projected to have eight picks from the 32nd overall to the 5th round, and there are a handful of quarterbacks that — franchise-changing or not — will be drafted within that range.
Duke’s Daniel Jones and Missouri’s Drew Lock are climbing up the board and a quarterback-hungry team probably will jump on them before it’s the Pats turn. If one of them falls and an interested team calls, I still believe they’d trade the pick before drafting one of them. Then there’s a drop-off in talent with West Virginia’s Will Grier, Boise State’s Brett Rypien, and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, among a few others. Again, these quarterbacks would have to really impress the Pats, but there is that chance. New England could draft one with the intention to trade him in a couple years, as they did with Brissett.
Least Likely: The Patriots trade up for Tom Brady’s replacement
It just doesn’t feel like the draft for the Patriots to find their next quarterback. Certainly, they will not be trading up for Haskins, and though some pundits like the idea of Murray going to New England, there are too many question marks surrounding the 5-foot-10 quarterback’s ability to play at the NFL level.
Is there a chance they really like what they see out of Jones or Lock and one of them falls to the late 20’s for the Patriots to move up a few spots? Sure, there is that chance. But it’s not a big one. And after those two go off the Board, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether these other quarterbacks are NFL starters.
The prediction: The Patriots go into 2019 with Brady, Hoyer, and Danny Etling (practice squad) as their quarterbacks