ESPN NFL insider Jeff Darlington believes the Patriots signed Brian Hoyer to add an extra layer between Mac Jones and the field.
It seems redundant that the Patriots would sign another veteran for the quarterback room, when they already have Cam Newton in the lead to start again in the 2021 season. Cost-controlled third-year pro Jarrett Stidham remains on the roster, too.
The idea with Jones is, and always will be, to let him develop for as long as possible before actually playing him. So if you’re going into 2021 expecting Jones to be the clear No. 2 behind Newton, you may have to be more patient than that.
At least, that’s what Darlington believes. As he explained on ESPN’s “Get Up” with Mike Greenberg on Tuesday, he views Hoyer as another option to start if Newton can’t and Belichick doesn’t feel Jones is ready.
“I think this is a deliberate attempt by the Patriots to put the bubble wrap on Mac Jones,” Darlington says in the above video. “I mean, when they add Brian Hoyer when they already have Jarrett Stidham and Cam Newton, it’s like, ‘What’s going on, here?’ In 2000, Tom Brady started that rookie year as the fourth-string quarterback. Through that season, he worked his way into that backup role behind Drew Bledsoe, ultimately replacing him [in 2001].
“Bill Belichick builds you up to break you down, and I really think that that’s what will happen with Mac Jones off the bat. I think he’s going to build him up, make him feel comfortable, make him feel confident, and then he’ll give him that dressing down, like he ultimately did with Tom Brady in front of everybody.”
Hoyer could also function as Newton insurance. If it turns out that Newton simply can’t get his throwing mechanics to a level that Belichick is comfortable with, and the Patriots decide to move on, they can release him instead of humiliating him with a benching. Starting the season with Hoyer as the starter certainly seems far from ideal. Stidham remains a relative unknown.
But it sure looks like that’s the plan for the Patriots, whether you agree with it or not. If Jones is going to see the field, it may be late in his rookie season in a mop-up or relief role, if at all. As a starter? It seems that we’ll see Jones in 2022 at the earliest.
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