Brian Hoyer

Jarrett Stidham To Start For Pats If Cam Newton Is Unavailable

The Patriots are currently scheduled to play the Broncos on Monday, and if starting QB Cam Newton is unable to take the field, New England will turn to second-year passer Jarrett Stidham, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Newton has been taking part in Zoom meetings with the team, and there is still hope that he will be able to suit up.

Of course, Newton’s positive COVID-19 test sidelined him for last week’s matchup against the Chiefs, and though New England’s defense generally held its own against Patrick Mahomes & Co., the club was clearly missing the 2015 league MVP. The Pats turned to veteran Brian Hoyer to start the game, but Hoyer lost track of his team’s timeouts at the end of the first half, and he lost a fumble late in the third quarter. Both mistakes likely cost New England points.

Hoyer was benched in favor of Stidham, and the Auburn product kept the Pats in the game on a nice TD pass to N’Keal Harry, but he ultimately threw two interceptions in just 13 pass attempts (though to be fair, one of them was really receiver Julian Edelman‘s fault, and the other came on something of a desperation heave that Stidham might not have tried but for the score of the game at that point). Given that Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round selection, clearly offers more upside than Hoyer, it makes sense that the Pats would look his way.

Of course, Stidham appeared to be the leading candidate to open the 2020 season as the Patriots’ starting signal-caller until Newton fell into their laps at the end of June. Then, a disappointing training camp that included some injury concerns forced the team to slide Stidham behind Hoyer on the depth chart. Stidham will surely welcome the opportunity to rebuild his stock if Newton has to sit.

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Patriots Name Cam Newton Starting QB

No surprises here, but the Patriots have named Cam Newton their starting quarterback, as Jim McBride of the Boston Globe was first to report. Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald adds that Newton has been voted a team captain (Twitter link).

For a long time after Tom Brady‘s abdication, New England insisted that it was comfortable moving forward with second-year pro Jarrett Stidham as its starting signal-caller. But the team managed to sign Newton for peanuts at the end of June, and as soon as that happened, the 2015 MVP became the odds-on favorite to succeed Brady as the Patriots’ QB1.

Newton has undergone three surgeries since the beginning of the 2017 offseason — two shoulder procedures and a foot operation — and he has missed 16 of the last 18 games. His 2019 season was almost completely wiped out by injury, but he looked like his usual brilliant self through the first 12 weeks of the 2018 campaign, and he ended that year having completed a career-best 67.9% of his throws for 3,395 yards, 24 TDs, and 13 picks. He also showed that he can still make plays with his feet – he tallied 488 rushing yards and four scores on 101 carries.

The most recent reports out of training camp suggested that Newton has not been perfect in practices, but he has been plenty good enough to beat out Stidham — who has been dealing with a hip injury — and Brian Hoyer. And he clearly has ingratiated himself with his new teammates, as evidenced by his captaincy.

Things will feel very different in Foxborough this year without Brady, but between Newton and the Pats’ defense, New England may not be ready to give up its stranglehold on the AFC East just yet.

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Patriots Notes: QBs, Dugger, Jackson

The Patriots did not guarantee Cam Newton the starting quarterback job after they signed him in late June, but assuming Newton is healthy, it would be shocking to see anyone else under center come Week 1. And the 2015 MVP was a “full go” when practices started earlier this month, so all signs are pointing towards Newton serving as New England’s signal-caller when the season opens in a few weeks.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic details how the “competition” has unfolded over the first few practices. Newton has taken the majority of first-team reps, and while he has not been perfect, his accuracy has been impressive. Jarrett Stidham, the second-year pro who was in line to replace Tom Brady before the Newton acquisition, has been dealing with a hip injury, and he has also struggled with interceptions. The team is not concerned about Stidham’s health, but the turnovers aren’t helping his cause.

Brian Hoyer, meanwhile, has had an up-and-down camp thus far, but considering his experience and familiarity with the Patriots’ offense, Howe says the 34-year-old remains an option to start during the early stages of the season.

Now for more notes out of Foxborough:

  • The Patriots’ top draft choice in 2020, safety Kyle Dugger, may struggle to see early playing time on defense because of how much the condensed offseason is impacting rookies’ abilities to learn the pro game. But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the team is eyeing Dugger as its top return specialist. The Lenoir-Rhyne product returned 67 punts for 929 yards and six TDs during his collegiate career.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says Jermaine Eluemunor is in the mix to replace Marcus Cannon — who opted out of the 2020 season — at right tackle. Though Yodny Cajuste appeared to be the favorite for the job, Reiss writes in a separate post that Cajuste, a 2019 third-rounder, appears to be buried on the depth chart.
  • Reiss adds that J.C. Jackson‘s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has touched base with the Patriots about an extension for his client. As a former UDFA, Jackson is now extension-eligible despite having just two years of service time. He has become a key piece of New England’s secondary and has recorded eight interceptions over his first two professional seasons.
  • Lamar Miller‘s one-year deal with the Pats will feature a $1.05MM base salary with $200K guaranteed, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Miller can earn up to $1.5MM more in achievable incentives.

Release Candidate: Patriots QB Brian Hoyer

When the Patriots signed Brian Hoyer back in March, many expected him to wind up as the Patriots’ new starter to replace Tom Brady. A few months later, things have changed dramatically. Between the addition of Cam Newton and the presence of youngster Jarrett Stidham, Hoyer may wind up back on the curb this summer.

Hoyer started out with the Patriots way back in 2008. Since then, the one-time undrafted free agent out of Michigan State has been a practice field favorite. This year would mark his third go ’round with Bill Belichick, so he knows the schemes and terminology inside and out.

He’s also signed to a very reasonable one-year, $2MM deal, and it’s fully guaranteed. Financially speaking, the Patriots would gain nothing by releasing the 34-year-old (35 in October).

Since 2010, the Patriots have generally rolled with two QBs on the depth chart, a savvy move to increase flexibility in other areas. Of course, they’re in a very different situation without Brady under center. At one point, in Brady’s rookie year, the Patriots housed four passers on the roster. If they don’t feel the need to backstop Newton and Stidham with their proven – and already paid – signal caller, the Patriots could drop him and create an extra spot for an edge rusher like Shilique Calhoun or a tenth offensive lineman.

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South Notes: Colts, Hoyer, Texans, Bucs

Before the Colts released Brian Hoyer last week, they discussed trading the veteran quarterback to the Patriots, the club that ultimately signed Hoyer once he was cut, as Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes. The conversations seemed to be at least somewhat serious in nature, as Holder reports trade compensation was discussed, but a deal never came together. Had New England acquired Hoyer, it would have been responsible for the rest of the three-year, $12MM contract Hoyer signed with Indianapolis in 2019. Instead, the Patriots inked Hoyer to a one-year, $1.05MM pact that includes up to $2MM in available incentives.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • The Texans have been widely panned for the trade which sent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona and running back David Johnson to Houston, and the terms of Johnson’s contract aren’t going to make matters improve. Johnson, whose 2020 base salary of $10.2MM is already guaranteed, saw $2.1MM of his 2021 salary become fully guaranteed last Friday, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. The veteran back is scheduled to count for more than $11MM on the Texans’ salary cap in 2020 before that figure drops to $9MM in 2021.
  • In other Texans contract news, linebacker Benardrick McKinney‘s $6MM base salary for 2020 is now fully guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). McKinney, who inked a five-year, $50MM extension with Houston in 2018, previously had this year’s base salary guaranteed for injury only. The inside linebacker market has exploded since McKinney signed that pact, as his $10MM annual salary now ranks just 12th at the position.
  • After making the biggest move in franchise history by signing Tom Brady to a free agent deal, the Buccaneers still have work to do in the upcoming draft. Tampa Bay still wants to find a pass-catching running back to work alongside Ronald Jones, while right tackle is also an an area that could be addressed, as Greg Auman of The Athletic writes. The Bucs did sign former Colts offensive lineman Joe Haeg as an option on the right side, but the 27-year-old has only started six total games in the past two seasons.

Jarrett Stidham To Start For Patriots?

We heard earlier today that the Patriots may be gearing up for a starting quarterback competition between Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, but Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston says that as of now, the job is Stidham’s to lose.

There is plenty of logic to that. The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and are said to be high on him, and most believe that New England will spend 2020 cleaning up its salary cap situation and preparing for a return to contention in 2021. That means that the club will not pursue a potentially pricey QB like the recently-released Cam Newton, and it means that Stidham will have a chance to prove that he can be the rightful heir to Tom Brady.

Curran does say that if the COVID-19 pandemic puts a damper on Stidham’s development — which it seems almost certain to do — then Hoyer could get the nod to open the 2020 season. Stidham, though, would probably step in at some point thereafter. The Auburn product threw just four passes in his rookie campaign but put together a strong two years against SEC defenses in 2017-18.

While we’re on the subject of the Patriots, let’s round up a few more notes out of Foxborough:

  • The release of longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski did not create $3.5MM of cap space, as originally reported. Because $2MM of Gostkowski’s 2020 salary was fully-guaranteed, the move actually frees up less than $1MM of space. So as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Gostkowski’s release wasn’t financially motivated; the team just wanted a new kicker.
  • Hoyer’s contract calls for a $1.05MM salary with $2MM in playing time incentives, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Because his deal with the Colts contained offsets, Hoyer will earn at least $2MM in 2020.
  • The Patriots agreed to sign veteran defensive back Cody Davis yesterday, and ESPN’s Field Yates reports that Davis will take home a $1.1MM base salary and landed a $100K signing bonus (Twitter link). He will carry a cap charge of $1.5MM.
  • Fullback Dan Vitale‘s new contract is a one-year pact worth $1.3MM, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. He received a $100K signing bonus and can earn another $200K in playing time incentives.

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Brady Fallout: Bucs, Belichick, Colts, Hoyer

The Buccaneers‘ signing of the most accomplished free agent in NFL history triggered a ripple effect in several cities. That started in Charlotte. Although neither Bruce Arians nor Jason Licht spoke to Tom Brady until Wednesday of last week, the Bucs believed they had a “shell of a deal” with Brady by Tuesday, Peter King of NBC Sports reports. This was hours before the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced he would no longer return to the Patriots. The Bucs’ discussions with Brady’s agent, Don Yee, Tuesday prompted them to bow out of the Teddy Bridgewater pursuit, King adds. Bridgewater’s Panthers offer prompted the Bucs to give him an answer, and they chose to stay in the Brady pursuit without a full commitment. The Bucs had been linked to Bridgewater for weeks.

At February’s end, the Bucs’ quarterback hierarchy went Brady-Bridgewater-Jameis Winston, King notes. Tampa Bay had also been linked to Philip Rivers in February, but it became clear the Colts were his top option.

Here is the latest fallout from the Bucs’ Brady signing:

  • Brady’s camp expressed interest in the Colts, but King notes the interest was not mutual. The prospect of a Rivers-Colts partnership surfaced shortly after the Chargers revealed they would not re-sign him, and while the notion of Rivers-over-Brady sounds interesting based on the veterans’ accolades, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets the Colts’ preference of going with a one-year quarterback arrangement probably did not align with Brady’s hopes of a multiyear commitment. Rivers signed a one-year, $25MM deal; Brady became a Buccaneer for two years and $50MM fully guaranteed. Brady also expressed interest in the 49ers, and the Titans were a long-rumored suitor. These franchises joined the Colts and Raiders in leaving the Brady race early.
  • Early this offseason, Brady’s camp put out feelers to other teams, and ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham notes many executives around the league viewed the quarterback as being driven by ill will toward Bill Belichick that they could not tell if he wanted out of New England or merely wanted Robert Kraft to step in and broker a new Pats deal. Belichick refused to give Brady the extension he sought last summer, and Wickersham adds that a Brady-Belichick conversation in late 2017 about the quarterback’s future with the Patriots ended with a “blowup.” This meeting appears to have happened just before Wickersham’s “tension in New England”-centered report that indicated Kraft’s intervention helped drive the Jimmy Garoppolo-to-San Francisco deal. The Patriots gave Brady an incentive package in 2018, leading to his extension-in-name-only 2019 contract.
  • As for the Patriots‘ plans, they may actually be planning a Brian HoyerJarrett Stidham quarterback battle. Hoyer could have earned more money elsewhere but wanted to return to New England because he was told he will have a chance to vie for the starting job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (video link). The Patriots, as of now, do not have Andy Dalton on their radar and are viewed as being high on Stidham, who has attempted four NFL passes.

Patriots To Sign Brian Hoyer

The Patriots will once again reunite with quarterback Brian Hoyer, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe. While Hoyer immediately becomes the most experienced signal-caller in Foxborough, it remains difficult to envision him entering the season as the team’s starter. NFL Insider Adam Caplan added that the deal is worth $2MM for one season and is fully guaranteed.

Hoyer was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State by the Patriots in 2008 before he was released in 2012. After stints with the Steelers and Cardinals, Hoyer found his first extended playing time with the Browns. Over a couple of seasons in Cleveland, Hoyer started 16 games in which the team went 10-6.

Of course, when the Browns decided to go in a direction, Hoyer went on to play with the Texans, Bears, and 49ers before rejoining the Patriots for 2017 and 2018. Last offseason Hoyer signed with the Colts and became the primary backup to Jacoby Brissett in the 2019 season. Now, Hoyer will be in a familiar situation but will be there for the first time without Tom Brady in New England.

Patriots Rumors: Brady, Edelman, Gilmore

We heard earlier this week that the Patriots made “no tangible effort” to retain Tom Brady, which drove Brady to leave Foxborough. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com paints a slightly different picture with respect to Brady’s departure, saying that Brady himself believed he had squeezed everything he could out of his relationship with head coach Bill Belichick (who may have felt similarly). Had Belichick approached Brady and suggested that the two sides do what they could to make sure the six-time Super Bowl champ finished his career with the Pats, Brady may have been receptive, but that is not Belichick’s style, and Brady never really expected that to happen.

The Patriots’ usual impersonal approach to their business, which has served them quite well over the past two decades, also played a role. The Pats generally withhold offers from players they are interested in retaining but who are allowed to test the market. That way, they avoid bidding against themselves and insulting the player, but by keeping an open dialogue, they are able to pounce if the price is right. In Brady’s case, no negotiations took place since August, and player and team may have been waiting for each other to make the first move.

Now for more from Foxborough:

  • So where do the Patriots go from here? Although New England is among the league leaders in dead cap charges for 2020 ($23MM), Reiss believes the club is in line for a reboot, not a rebuild. The Pats have a much rosier financial outlook in 2021, when they are projected to have roughly $100MM of cap space, so Reiss suggests they will look to get younger and clean up their cap situation this year so they can take full advantage of their flexibility next season.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe is more pessimistic about the Pats’ immediate prospects (though he does say that the salary cap ramifications stemming from a theoretical Brady re-up made it more logical for the team to part ways). He believes the club is in for a difficult rebuild, and while there do not appear to be any concrete trade rumblings, he suggests that New England could look into dealing WR Julian Edelman and CB Stephon Gilmore.
  • Indeed, Gilmore — the reigning Defensive Player of the Year — could be seeking a raise after seeing less accomplished CBs get PAID this offseason, and dealing him would certainly yield a nice return of draft capital. It depends, presumably, on whether the Patriots feel they can retool on the fly or need to tear down.
  • Despite being connected to Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton in offseason rumors, the Patriots have not discussed Dalton, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (via Twitter). We heard several days ago that New England would instead seek a cheaper veteran, and Howe suggests former Patriot Brian Hoyer could be in play (Twitter link). Hoyer, who was released by the Colts yesterday, is reportedly open to a reunion with the Pats.

Colts Release QB Brian Hoyer

Brian Hoyer‘s stay with the Colts will stop at one year. After the Colts signed the veteran quarterback to a three-year, $12MM deal late last summer, they are cutting him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Colts announced the move.

The Colts guaranteed Hoyer $9MM, so they will incur some dead money by moving on after one season. But their quarterback plans have changed significantly since then, with Philip Rivers bound for Indianapolis. The Colts will take a $2MM dead-money hit by cutting Hoyer.

Hoyer has played on seven NFL teams and figures to be a candidate to either rejoin one of his previous six or sign with an eighth franchise soon. The 34-year-old passer generated interest after the Patriots cut him last August, and given the Pats’ rather notable change at quarterback this week, it is worth wondering if they would be interested in another reunion. Tom Brady‘s respect for his former two-stint backup points to the Buccaneers as another possibility, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Jacoby Brissett‘s knee injury resulted in Hoyer starting a game last season. For the year, he threw four touchdown passes and four interceptions, completing 54% of his passes. Hoyer has now played for the Patriots, Cardinals, Browns, Texans, Bears, 49ers and Colts. Should the former UDFA suit up for the 2020 season, it will be his 12th.

Together, Rivers and Brissett are set to count more than $46MM toward the Colts’ 2020 cap. When factoring in Andrew Luck‘s dead money, the nearly $53MM figure at this position comprises more than a fourth of the Colts’ 2020 payroll. That wildly high-priced positional commitment will not allow for an expensive backup. The Colts created $3MM in cap space by releasing Hoyer.

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