Multiple pundits, including NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, have praised Ryan Mallett‘s play in training camp within the last week or two, prompting others to wonder if the Patriots are trying to pump up the quarterback’s trade value as he enters a contract year. That campaign appears set to continue tonight, as Mallett will start the team’s first preseason game in place of Tom Brady, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.
Mallett, who has been Brady’s backup in New England for multiple seasons, has drawn trade interest during the past couple years, and became more expendable after the club drafted Jimmy Garoppolo this past May. The Pats won’t just give him away, of course, but Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets that Mallett “might as well be wearing a For Sale sign around his neck” this summer.
One AFC executive who spoke to Breer wasn’t overly bullish on the signal-caller’s value, suggesting that it wouldn’t be ideal to trade for a quarterback entering the final year of his contract unless an injury made it necessary (Twitter link). In the exec’s view, a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick seems about right for Mallett. For his part, the Pats backup has said he feels as if he’s a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, but he isn’t unhappy with his situation in New England, as Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe details.
Mallett, 26, has only thrown four passes in NFL regular season games, during a brief stint in relief of Brady in 2012. As such, any teams with interest in him will likely be keeping a close eye on his performance tonight and in the rest of the preseason. I wouldn’t expect the Pats to move him quite yet, but Mallett’s situation will be worth watching over the next few weeks, and even all the way to the trade deadline.