Patriots' plan at QB comes into focus with Hoyer signing, lack of interest elsewhere

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By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Bill Belichick has a plan.

What can be debated is whether the Patriots' plan at quarterback files under "This Was It All Along", "Plan B", "Break Glass In Case Of Emergency", or some other unforeseen category. But he has a plan and it's clear: spend as little as possible, assume Jarrett Stidham will ultimately start, and hope for the best.

Brian Hoyer is probably not here to be the starter whenever the 2020 season begins. If that's the case then something likely went very wrong for Stidham, the 2019 fourth-round pick who has shown the arm talent and maturity to potentially vastly outperform his draft position.

It's no sure thing, though. Stidham played just 15 snaps as a rookie, and only four of them were pass attempts. Two were completed, and the "highlight" everyone remembers is the pick-six he threw to Jets safety Jamal Adams in a 30-14 Week 3 win. So a little recency bias could perhaps make the general outlook on Stidham more bleak than it may be in reality.

Whether he's ready or not, Stidham should be the clear favorite to become the Pats' Week 1 starter. Hoyer will provide both veteran guidance and a little friendly competition to push him in camp. Maybe Hoyer gets the first team reps initially due to his familiarity in the system, but ideally Stidham clearly outperforms him. Belichick will go with Hoyer if he feels Stidham hasn't prepared himself enough or if the second-year QB takes a step back in the preseason.

The third QB spot currently belongs to Cody Kessler. That's not likely to be a particularly safe spot on the roster. There are plenty of similar veteran QBs who could at least be solid backups, like Colt McCoy, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore. The likelihood, though, is that the Pats roll with this group and perhaps add a draft pick to the mix.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 29: Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots makes a pass during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 29: Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots makes a pass during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

That last part should probably be a thing. It's debatable whether or not it's a good idea to inject controversy into the current QB situation by pitting Stidham against a high-drafted rookie. But if Stidham melts because Bill Belichick took the plunge with Justin Herbert or Jacob Eason or some other QB prospect in the back half of the first round, maybe he's not fit for the starting spot anyway.

The point, though, is that the Patriots are not going to spend much more on the position than they already have. It's a virtual necessity, with the departed Tom Brady taking up $13.5 million in dead cap space alone. Multiple top reporters have suggested that the team's plan for the roster in 2020 is to get right financially.

That's why it never made much sense at all for the Patriots to target a veteran with starting experience whose price tag outweighs the contributions they'd make compared to Stidham or Hoyer. So it should come as no surprise that they haven't discussed Andy Dalton and aren't interested in Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, either.

So unless a surprise trade falls into Belichick's lap (Deshaun?), get used to a Stidham-Hoyer tandem to guide the Patriots through the 2020 season. The hope is that the kid's ready and can run the offense like a disciplined professional. If he's better than that, great. But this is what needs to be hoped for, and not the unexpected arrival of an established talent.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].