New England Patriots

  • After Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Patriots are down to just one healthy quarterback on their roster in rookie Bailey ZappeMac Jones is still recovering from a high ankle sprain, while backup Brian Hoyer was knocked out of the game early with what was described as a head injury – which usually means a concussion.

    Jones practiced late last week, and while unlikely there’s still an outside shot he returns for next week’s game against the Lions. Meanwhile, clearing concussion protocol can be a multi-day process, at times lasting longer than a week. There’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for next week.

    This is a long way of saying the Patriots are likely in the market for a quarterback right now. Sure, the team has in the past gone into games with one healthy quarterback (and even really zero – Jacoby Brissett had a torn ligament in his throwing thumb when he was the lone QB dressed for the team’s Week 4 game against the Buffalo Bills in 2016). The difference is that team knew exactly when their starting quarterback was returning to play. There’s much more uncertainty with the current situation.

    So, who could the Patriots look to add for much-needed depth this week? Instead of throwing every name imaginable against the wall, let’s add some method to the madness. Let’s look at quarterbacks that are either former Patriots, are/have been connected to the Patriots, or are/have been connected to Patriots-adjacent teams. Here’s a look at the quarterbacks fitting one or more of those qualifications currently available.

  • Garrett Gilbert

    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – DECEMBER 21: Garrett Gilbert #19 of the Washington Football Team looks to pass as Derek Barnett #96 of the Philadelphia Eagles defends during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 21, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    We begin with the former Patriots. Gilbert probably makes the most sense of any option on this list. He’s had two stints with the Patriots – both on the practice squad. He was with the team for their Super Bowl-winning season in 2014, before being released during minicamp the next spring. Last season, the Patriots brought him back at the start of the season, and he spent most of the year in Foxborough before being signed off the practice squad by the then-Washington Football Team, in need of an emergency starter in mid-December.

    Among the boxes Gilbert checks – he’s a veteran with starting experience and experience with the Patriots’ offense. He also wouldn’t cost the team much to bring in – he’s currently a free agent, having been released by the Raiders in May.

  • J’Mar Smith

    CANTON, OHIO - JULY 03: Birmingham Stallions quarterback J'Mar Smith (6) looks for an open receiver in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL Championship game at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

    CANTON, OHIO – JULY 03: Birmingham Stallions quarterback J’Mar Smith (6) looks for an open receiver in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL Championship game at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on July 03, 2022 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

    Smith was originally signed by the Patriots as a UDFA out of Louisiana Tech in the spring of 2020. However, he was released before ever taking the field, when the NFL cut the roster limit from 90 players to 80 as part of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. After a season on the bench in the CFL, he joined the USFL this spring and was one of the top quarterbacks in the league as he led the Birmingham Stallions to a championship.

  • Brian Lewerke

    CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 22: Quarterback Brian Lewerke #6 of the New York Giants passes during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 22, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Giants 17-13.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

    CLEVELAND, OHIO – AUGUST 22: Quarterback Brian Lewerke #6 of the New York Giants passes during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 22, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Giants 17-13. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

    Lewerke was the other Patriots UDFA QB in 2020. He was with the team through training camp before being released. He spent the entire 2021 season on the New York Giants’ practice squad, when current Patriots quarterbacks coach Joe Judge was the head coach. The Giants released him back in May, and he’s still a free agent.

  • Danny Etling

    Aug 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Danny Etling (5) throws the ball against the Washington Redskins during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Danny Etling (5) throws the ball against the Washington Redskins during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    A seventh-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2018, Etling spent his rookie season in New England on the practice squad. After a failed position change experiment to wide receiver, he was released and has had nine stops in the two-plus seasons since. He’s currently on the Packers’ practice squad, so the Patriots could bring him in but they’d have to give him an active roster spot to do so.

  • Cam Newton

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) makes a call against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) makes a call against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    If Mac Jones was out for the season, signing Newton would make a lot more sense. However, it seems unlikely the team would bring him in for only a couple of weeks, only to then sit him behind Jones or outright release him. Newton probably wouldn’t be eager for that arrangement either. Still, he fits the bill so he’s on the list.

  • Jeff Driskel

    DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 18: Jeff Driskel #6 of the Houston Texans rushes for a first down during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field At Mile High on September 18, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

    DENVER, COLORADO – SEPTEMBER 18: Jeff Driskel #6 of the Houston Texans rushes for a first down during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field At Mile High on September 18, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

    Onto our second group – players who are connected to the Patriots through Patriots-adjacent franchises. There’s actually a group within that group, which we’ll call Patricia’s passers. Matt Patricia, as the presumed de facto offensive coordinator, will likely have some say in what quarterback the Patriots bring in, assuming they do in fact sign another quarterback. Keeping that in mind, why not look at the quarterbacks he brought in when he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions.

    That group includes Driskel, who started three games for the Lions in 2019. A sixth-round pick by the 49ers in 2016, he actually has a surprising amount of NFL experience, with nine career starts and 345 pass attempts in six seasons. He’s currently on the practice squad in Houston, another team with a key Patriots connection with GM/former Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio at the helm. Again, he’d need an active roster spot and can’t be signed to the practice squad.

  • Josh Johnson

    HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 17: Josh Johnson #4 of the Detroit Lions looks to pass under pressure by Whitney Mercilus #59 of the Houston Texans in the first quarter during the preseason game at NRG Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 17: Josh Johnson #4 of the Detroit Lions looks to pass under pressure by Whitney Mercilus #59 of the Houston Texans in the first quarter during the preseason game at NRG Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

    Johnson, 36, is the ultimate journeyman quarterback. Since entering the NFL as a fifth-round pick in 2008, he’s played for 17 different NFL franchises – including a stop with Patricia’s Lions in 2019. That includes multiple stints with four of those teams – plus another three teams from three different leagues. There are very few active players who have seen more football than he has.

    If Hoyer can’t be back in the building soon, and the Patriots want to find a substitute for his veteran presence, they’re not going to be able to find a better option than Johnson. He is currently on the Denver Broncos practice squad, so signing him would mean giving him an active roster spot.

  • Jordan Ta’amu

    Apr 18, 2022; Birmingham, AL, USA;Tampa Bay Bandits quarterback Jordan Ta'amu (10) throws against the Pittsburgh Maulers during the first half at Protective Stadium. Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 18, 2022; Birmingham, AL, USA;Tampa Bay Bandits quarterback Jordan Ta’amu (10) throws against the Pittsburgh Maulers during the first half at Protective Stadium. Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

    Ta’amu went undrafted out of Ole Miss in 2019, but caught on in the XFL where he was one of the top quarterbacks in the league before it shut down due to COVID in the spring of 2020. He then had a brief stint with Matt Patricia’s Lions during training camp. The Patriots also hosted Ta’amu for a free agent visit last summer. He was a starter in the USFL this past spring, and was the league’s leading passer.

  • Kyle Sloter

    Aug 4, 2022; Canton, Ohio, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Kyle Sloter (4) rolls out during the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 4, 2022; Canton, Ohio, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Kyle Sloter (4) rolls out during the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Patricia’s Lions signed Sloter off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad late in the 2019 season when injuries piled up at quarterback. He was on the active roster for the final four games of the season, but did not play. In the three years since he’s spent time with five teams, mostly on the practice squad, although he did win a starting job in the USFL this past spring. Following that, he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars for a week in training camp this summer.

  • David Blough

    DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 22: Quarterback David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions audibles at the line against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 22, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    DENVER, COLORADO – DECEMBER 22: Quarterback David Blough #10 of the Detroit Lions audibles at the line against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 22, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

    Prior to the 2019 seasons, Patricia and the Lions traded for Blough, who had been signed as a UDFA by the Browns just a few months prior. He spent the next three years in Detroit, including making five starts late in the 2019 season. After getting cut by the Lions during final roster cuts, the Vikings signed him to their practice squad.

  • Chase Garbers

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 26:  Linebacker Matthew Judon #9 of the New England Patriots rushes quarterback Chase Garbers #15 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium on August 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 26: Linebacker Matthew Judon #9 of the New England Patriots rushes quarterback Chase Garbers #15 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium on August 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    If Garbers’ name sounds familiar, that’s probably because he found success throwing on the Patriots’ defense in the preseason finale, completing 12-of-22 passes for 141 yards in that game. The UDFA out of Cal is now on the Raiders’ practice squad. Could that preseason performance and Josh McDaniels’ stamp of approval be enough for the Patriots to give him a roster spot?

  • Davis Webb

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 21: Davis Webb #12 of the New York Giants drops back to pass during the second half of a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium on August 21, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants won 25-22. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – AUGUST 21: Davis Webb #12 of the New York Giants drops back to pass during the second half of a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium on August 21, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants won 25-22. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

    Webb is in his fourth season with former Patriots assistant coach Brian Daboll – three in Buffalo before following him to the New York Giants this year on the practice squad. Webb was originally drafted by the Giants in the third round out of Cal in 2017.

  • Anthony Gordon

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 20: Quarterback Anthony Gordon #8 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass during the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 20, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Chiefs defeated the Cardinals 17-10. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA – AUGUST 20: Quarterback Anthony Gordon #8 of the Kansas City Chiefs throws a pass during the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 20, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Chiefs defeated the Cardinals 17-10. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Onto the final group – quarterbacks who haven’t been with the Patriots or a Patriots-adjacent franchise but have had free agent meetings and/or workouts in Foxborough. The quarterback the team met with the most recently – that isn’t currently on a roster – is Gordon (ex. they met with Josh Dobbs this past offseason, but he has since signed with the Cleveland Browns). Undrafted out of Washington State in 2020, Gordon has spent time with the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Broncos. Most recently, he had his second stint in Kansas City this spring.

  • Devlin Hodges

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 22: Devlin Hodges #6 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass against the New York Jets during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – DECEMBER 22: Devlin Hodges #6 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass against the New York Jets during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

    The Patriots met with Hodges around this time last year, but didn’t end up signing him. Hodges’ big moment came in 2019, when he started six games for the Steelers as an undrafted rookie. Since meeting with the Patriots Hodges had a stint in the Canadian Football League, but struggled and announced his retirement in April. Would he come back to football if given another shot at an NFL roster spot?

  • James Morgan

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 21: James Morgan #4 of the New York Jets passes the football in the second half during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 21, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 21: James Morgan #4 of the New York Jets passes the football in the second half during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 21, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

    O.K., now we’re digging. The Patriots never had a free agent meeting with Morgan, but they did sit with him for a pre-draft meeting prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. He ended up getting drafted by the Jets in the fourth round, and has also spent time with the Steelers and Panthers – all on the practice squad. Morgan is currently signed up to play in the USFL in 2023.

  • 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 abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.