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What’s the Pats’ plan when Tom Brady is gone?

Tom Brady’s successor may still be in high school.

When it comes to religion or politics, civil discussions are few and far between. The same goes for sports in a lot of cases.

But one thing we can all agree on is this: Tom Brady will be the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots for the foreseeable future.

The 35-year-old Brady has gone on record saying he'd play into his 40s - and why not? He gets better with age: His top four quarterback rating seasons have come after he turned 30, with his second and third highest coming in the last two seasons. This obviously isn't ideal for backup quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Hoyer is going into his fourth season with the club and is an unrestricted free agent after this season. Mallett is going into his second season. Neither has taken a meaningful snap in an NFL game, and if everything goes as planned, no other Pats QB will until Brady hangs 'em up.

Hoyer's future as Brady's successor looks grim. It's hard to believe he'll stick around that long (he'd be over 30 by then) as a permanent backup without at least giving it a shot on another team that offers a chance to start.

But what about Mallett? The Patriots surprisingly took a flyer on the former Arkansas QB when he fell to the third round in the draft. Was it with the intention of turning him into the next big thing? Or was it simply a pick of "value?" Many believe Mallett has a higher ceiling than Hoyer. The Patriots will have plenty of time to see just how high it is. But like Hoyer, it's hard to gauge Mallett's skill without seeing him in a real game. Until then, they'll look for signs he's progressing.

"Once they stop improving for whatever their reasons are, once there's no more improvement, then you have to decide as an organization what value that player has at that level," said head coach Bill Belichick.

 
 
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