After returning to New England for a fourth stint with the Patriots, veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer appears to be seeking a new opportunity to back up a young signal-caller. His next gig might come nearby, in the AFC East.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Hoyer is set to visit the New York Jets on Thursday. It comes several weeks after the Patriots tabbed Cam Newton to return to the quarterback room for 2021. But what will Newton’s role be once he walks back through that door?
Hoyer’s presumed departure could shed light on Newton’s status in the Patriots organization for the 2021 season. Reports have indicated that he’s not promised the starting job – like he ostensibly was in 2020, when he started every game in which he were available.
However, unless Jarrett Stidham takes an unforeseen leap forward, Newton is in line to begin the 2021 regular season as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. That doesn’t necessarily mean Bill Belichick won’t address the QB position in the 2021 NFL Draft. But Newton’s presence, combined with Hoyer’s departure, indicates more of a shift toward the former becoming the only veteran in the room.
Newton’s public comments have reflected a QB who would rather take an opportunity to silence his critics after a poor 2020 season in the passing game. He said in a recent podcast with former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall: “You only have a certain amount of options. Given the hand I was dealt last year, [people said] ‘Is he healthy?’ I just wanted to finish healthy. Now it’s like, ‘Am I able to learn a system?’ Like, come on, bro. I can’t go out like that. My pride won’t allow me to do that.”
If Newton is ultimately willing to become the “new Hoyer,” and that’s the role he played by the end of 2021, that would be a tremendous development for the Patriots. It would mean they have identified a capable young starting quarterback to take over.
Despite calls in some circles for the Patriots to move up as high as the fourth pick in the 2021 draft – which logically would be for the fourth-best QB prospect – that remains unlikely. It’s much more probable that they take the best player available, regardless of position, in the first round, then opt for a more developmental QB prospect with upside on day 2. They’ve been linked to Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M, while Stanford’s Davis Mills has a lot of traits that would seem attractive to Belichick. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was recently at Florida’s Pro Day, where quarterback Kyle Trask worked out.
Either way, it’s a good thing that the Patriots are apparently moving on from Hoyer. Will Newton accept a Hoyer type of role, if it turns out that Stidham or the rookie is the better option at some point during the season? Another consideration: after refusing to make that decision in 2020, would Belichick do it now?
Because there’s an opening for the veteran backup in Foxboro. And Newton is the only one that fits that bill.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.