Let’s take a trip into a reality where Tom Brady is no longer a New England Patriot. Close your eyes and imagine for a bit.
The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills breathe a collective sigh of relief as they now have a realistic chance to win their division for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Talk show hosts like Nick Wright, Shannon Sharpe, and Rob Parker smile with the giddiness of a child on Christmas morning as they wax poetically about how the Patriots Dynasty is finally over. The Death Star has been destroyed. Thanos no longer holds all the Infinity Stones. The Boogeyman has gone back into the closet for good.
The big, bad Bill Belichick is left holding a deflated football, forced to watch his Hall of Fame quarterback leave Gillette Stadium en route to another team.
Patriots Nation is left in shambles as their hero, their savior has deserted them. All that’s left is a GOAT sized hole in their hearts.
Now allow me to rescue you from this hellish landscape and shine some light no an otherwise terrible situation. If Tom Brady leaves the Patriots, what’s next? Are the Patriots left to wallow in mediocrity until the next sixth-round godsend comes their way? The short answer is no. There are a few scenarios that should leave Patriots fans with at least a little hope left in their fandom.
Marcus Mariota Brings His Heisman To Foxboro
The idea of Marcus Mariota replacing the greatest of all time likely won’t sound too appealing to Patriots Nation, but there could be worse quarterbacks to take over the team going into 2020.
With a QBR of 89.6 and completion percentage of 62.9, his numbers don’t jump out at you, but at the very least it shows that he can put together a competent season if given the chance. His benching in favor of backup Ryan Tannehill last season was widely thought of as more of a quarterback stuck in a rut who may need to tune up his skills as opposed to a second-round pick who flamed out and has nothing left.
The word around the league is: give Mariota a competent coach with a new team, and he can be a solid quarterback. Bill Belichick and the Patriots would provide him a brand new world to revive his career.
The Prodigal Son Returns
Jimmy Garoppolo returning to where his career started while replacing the quarterback who allegedly had a hand in sending him packing would be one of the most polarizing moves in NFL history. But even an outlandish scenario like this has been given legs by reporters across the country, real or fabricated, so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.
The Niners would be sacrificing their long term success for a championship over the next few years, while the Patriots would be revamping the plan that Belichick had in mind when he initially drafted Garoppolo back in 2014. There’s some semblance of sense for each team to make this move, but it’s still very unlikely.
The Patriots would undoubtedly be coming out on top once the dust settles on this trade, but it’s not unheard to see a team sacrifice their future to win now. However unlikely, we could see Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady swapping teams this offseason.
The Stidham Experience Begins
In probably the most uneventful of all the scenarios, it’s possible that the Pats just stay put with what they have if Brady ditches them for another suitor.
Belichick drafted Stidham for a reason and the team reportedly likes what they’ve seen so far from the soon-to-be second-year quarterback. This wouldn’t be the first time Belichick was forced to go with an unproven, young quarterback and that ended pretty well.
Saints Come Marching In
The Saints have a quarterback who may be on the move, and the Patriots could be a potential destination if he leaves. No, not Drew Brees. Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater is almost certainly leaving New Orleans this offseason, the only question is how much money is he going to garner. For that reason alone, he may be too expensive for Belichick and the Pats, but money can be moved and the cap can be manipulated.
The 27-year-old could find a home in New England for the foreseeable future and clearly possesses the skill for Belichick to mold into an above-average quarterback. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be grinning from ear to ear imagining all the creative plays he could draw up with Bridgewater as well.
While he’s been damaged goods for the last couple of seasons, Cam Newton clearly thinks he still has quality football left in him. The big question here is injury.
Missing almost all of last year with a severe foot injury, availability would be a major concern for any team that looks into Newton. When healthy, he can play at an MVP level, but no one knows what Newton will look like coming back from this injury. If Belichick thinks Newton still has some quality years left in him, there’s no reason he shouldn’t kick the tires on this one.
But would he move on from a known, albeit older, commodity to move on to a player who has been racking up the injuries over the last couple years and may never be the same?
Red Rocket Turns To Red Musket
Andy Dalton is a name that is sure to bring groans to almost every Patriots fan when it comes to a potential replacement for Tom Brady. But Dalton makes sense if you look past the stink of being on the Bengals.
Dalton is looked at around the league similar to Mariota: if you give him a good team to work with, he at the very least won’t cost you games. Things could get much worse than a solid game manager for the Patriots. Even though the Bengals have been atrocious the last four years, Dalton doesn’t deserve all of that blame. If the reports are to be believed, Belichick believes that Dalton has some “untapped potential” that he can take advantage of if he had a chance to get his hands on him.
Take Your Chance On The Draft
The Patriots have been linked to a few rookie quarterbacks coming out the combine this year, but one of the names that keep coming up is Justin Herbert. He led the Ducks to a Pac-12 conference championship and a Rose Bowl victory last season while boasting some impressive stats (66.8 percent of his passes for 3,471 yards with 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions).
With no second-round pick in this year’s draft, the Patriots would likely have to spend their first-rounder on a quarterback or make a trade to move up as to not miss out on anyone they may have their eyes on. Either way, putting a rookie behind center will definitely come with some growing pains and would surely lead to a frustrating season for Patriots Nation.
Out of every scenario presented here, there’s one that would make the most sense above all else: don’t let Brady walk in the first place. Brady is getting older, sure, but at least you know he works in this system. Going in any other direction would be a big roll of the dice, regardless of what path the Patriots choose.