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New England Patriots

Dec 28, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with quarterback Cam Newton (1) during a break in the action against the Buffalo Bills in the half quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

In an offseason of unprecedented quarterback uncertainty, the Patriots QB situation might be the biggest mystery of them all. They’re in a spot in the draft where it’s not unrealistic to believe they could take a top-six QB or trade up for one of the top four. At the same time, history tells us they’d prefer a veteran option. Truly, it seems like everything could be on the table.

During an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up on Monday morning, Mike Reiss shared some insight into the Patriots’ current thought process. As it turns out, they’re not ready to rule anything out yet either.

“Here’s the summary, there is no surefire answer to the Patriots,” Reiss said. “Here’s how someone in the organization explained it to me. ‘We’re going to do what we always do – explore every option.'”

A month and a half into the offseason, it doesn’t sound like the Patriots are ready to rule out any potential quarterback situations just yet. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan in place, and preferences on how to go about getting the next guy.

“Timing is important for them,” Reiss relayed from his source with the Patriots. “To get a quarterback for the start of free agency, so that if they’re out recruiting a top receiver or a top tight end, that player knows who might be throwing them the football.”

That’s a noticeable and should-be welcomed adjustment from how the team conducted their quarterback search last year. Cam Newton didn’t sign until July 8 last year, which not only hurt the Patriots in free agency but gave Newton a late start on learning the Patriots’ offensive system.

So what does that report mean for the 2021 offseason? Free agency opens on March 17 this year, almost a month and a half before the NFL Draft. If Bill Belichick’s goal is to have his starting quarterback by that date, he’s likely not looking for a draft pick to immediately fill that role. It doesn’t rule out them using a premium draft pick on a quarterback all together, but if they do the plan would likely be to have that player sit behind a veteran, at least to start the season.

MORE: Will the Patriots overhaul their defensive line in free agency?

In fact, Reiss seems to believe the Patriots are more enamored with this year’s rookie quarterback class than other classes in recent history. He cited their presence at the Clemson Pro Day, in which Trevor Lawrence was one of only two players working out for scouts.

“Now they’re not going to get Trevor Lawrence,” Reiss explained, “but here’s why that stood out to me. It tells me they are all in on the draft quarterbacks.” He then compared the situation to the 2012 draft process, when Belichick “didn’t bother to scout” Andrew Luck because “it wasn’t realistic.”

“What they want to do is get the biggest full picture of all the quarterbacks, comparing them so they can make the best decision,” Reiss concluded.

Based on what Reiss is saying, it sounds like major quarterback news could be coming out of Foxborough sooner rather than later, with free agency opening in just 30 days. It also seems like those hoping to see a rookie QB under center in Week 1 may need to readjust their expectations.

Click here for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of the Patriots.

Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.