Mazz: When will the Patriots begin the search for their next quarterback?

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shake hands at the start of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shake hands at the start of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Forget the receiving corps. Forget the annual Gronk drama. When are the Patriots going to start farming for their next quarterback?

Don’t look now, Pats followers, but there are suddenly some interesting names on the quarterback market. Blake Bortles has been released by the Jacksonville Jaguars and, on Thursday, A.J. McCarron was cut by the Oakland Raiders. Players of the like are precisely the kind that Bill Belichick should take a flier on as Tom Brady approaches his 42nd birthday.

Personally, I’d even take a shot on Colin Kaepernick at this stage, but I digress.

Last weekend, Boston Globe football reporter Jim McBride offered up the following observation about the Patriots quarterback situation – and the timing of it struck me as odd:

“With a dozen picks in next month’s draft, the Patriots probably will take another QB but don’t sleep on [current Patriot Danny] Etling. He’ll be a guy to watch during the spring and summer. It will be interesting to see how much he’s improved with a year in the program under his belt."

So here are the questions:

Do the Patriots really believe in Etling, whom they drafted last year in the seventh round?

Or is this a smokescreen designed to lull teams to sleep so that the Pats can swoop in and swipe a quarterback at next month’s draft?

Look, you all know how I feel about Jimmy Garoppolo. At this stage, I think we all know how Belichick felt about Garoppolo. But whether the next quarterback of the Patriots is Jimmy G. or Maggie Q., the Patriots need to start the process again, whether you believe Brady is playing until age 45 or not.

Far be it for any us to suggest what Belichick should do, but the process probably needs to begin again. Truth be told, the Pats should probably sign someone like Bortles – whom they reportedly had interest in during his draft year - and draft a prospect with one of the six selections they have in the first three rounds. And if they want to keep Etling, that’s fine, too. He’ll either benefit from the competition or provide for someone else.

I mean, really, Brady isn’t going to play forever.

Even if it often does feel that way.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger and Mazz program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.