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Quarterback Breakdown: Will The Patriots Have Four QBs For The 2022 Season?

The post-Tom Brady quarterback era in New England has been quite the topic of discussion amongst the media and fans alike. Questions have arisen regarding the team’s success in general, but also with Bill Belichick as the head coach. The sharp critiques of both have seemingly intensified as the years pass by without Brady as the Patriots quarterback.

Who would be the first man up after Brady’s departure? Will the team’s success continue without him? Can Belichick get it done without his six-time champion quarterback?

Although some of these questions seem a bit outlandish, there is some validity to asking them. The conversation regarding who should be the quarterback has settled down since the drafting of Mac Jones last year, largely in part due to his noteworthy rookie season production.

Coming into the 2022 season, it’s obvious who will be the starter. But what about the rest of the quarterbacks? Who will be the primary backup? Will Belichick take four quarterbacks with him this season?

Mac Jones

When the Patriots drafted Mac Jones in 2021, they had recently re-signed their quarterback from the previous season, Cam Newton. The QB competition began shortly thereafter, with Newton seemingly having won the job up until the opening week of the season.

Just days before their week one game, the team announced they had released Newton and named Jones as the starter. It was very unlike Belichick to make such a move, particularly starting a rookie QB. But because they liked what Jones showed them in training camp and the preseason, their confidence appeared sky high that he would perform just fine.

After his successful rookie year in 2021, Jones is set to continue as the starting quarterback for the Patriots this upcoming season. He has been seen all over social media training with multiple New England receivers and even running backs. Those with him have spoken highly of the work they have seen from him so far this offseason, setting greater expectations than they were previously.

Mac Jones’ rookie stats compared to the other rookie quarterbacks of the 2021 season:

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Credit to Mark Daniels of Providence Journal

Even though Belichick chose to draft another QB this year, his repeated praise of Jones speaks volumes. The 2021 season didn’t conclude in the traditional Patriots way, but Jones will use that as a launching pad to learn and get better. Since his rookie season was the best of all those drafted before him, Jones has set the bar high for his second season.

Brian Hoyer

Back for his third and likely final stint with the Patriots, Brian Hoyer has been a favorite backup quarterback of Belichick’s throughout the years. He is currently signed through the 2023 season, making him a free agent at the age of 39 in 2024.

As the team continues with its rebuild, Hoyer’s position within the organization becomes much more important. Because he’s been on the team for what will be eight total seasons, Hoyer’s knowledge of not just being a quarterback but of the New England system makes him a valuable asset for Jones and Bailey Zappe. His mentorship has been said to greatly impact those he works with and Jones has repeatedly praised Hoyer for his help throughout his rookie season.

In the upcoming season, Hoyer will likely stay at the QB2 spot on the team, with Zappe probably moving up to the third string. With the departure of Jarrett Stidham, Zappe could move up quicker than initially anticipated. He will have the opportunity to also learn and be mentored by Hoyer, who could one day become a QB coach for the Patriots once he retires from the game.

Jarrett Stidham

When drafted, the narrative surrounding Jarrett Stidham was that of a talented backup with starting potential. When Tom Brady chose to leave the Patriots in 2020, Stidham was initially believed to be his successor. As the only other quarterback on the team at the time, it was a fair assumption to have. But as it’s been seen, things rapidly change in the NFL.

Since joining the team in 2019, Stidham slowly moved down the depth chart. He became the backup to Cam Newton for the 2020 season, but was moved to third-string behind Brian Hoyer in the few games he took the field for. The following year remained the same, with Newton returning for a second year in Foxboro.

His future with the team was all but set once Mac Jones was drafted 15th overall in the 2021 draft. Eventually, Bill Belichick chose to move on from Newton prior to the season. And that is when the decision was made to have Jones as the starter. Hoyer would return in his backup role, and Stidham was out for the majority of the year due to injury.

Fast forward to this offseason, Stidham was all but guaranteed to be traded. Once the draft was over, it was more of a matter of when and not if.

Just a few weeks later, the Patriots found a trade partner in their old pal Josh McDaniels, sending Stidham to the Raiders with a 6th round pick in return. McDaniels and Stidham’s familiarity with each other is certainly beneficial for both parties, and now the quarterback has the chance to sit behind and learn from Derek Carr.

Bailey Zappe

Because of the trade of Jarrett Stidham post-draft, Bailey Zappe‘s position with the team jumped significantly. With Jones set to resume as the starter with Hoyer presumably his backup, Zappe’s rookie season could be spent on the main roster and not the practice squad.

It’s clear Belichick and Matt Groh chose to draft Zappe with the intention of him taking on the backup role. Jones is only entering his second season, making it incredibly unlikely for them to be looking for his replacement already. But Zappe does bring a lot to the table, as he broke several records during his last college season.

It’s not clear at this point if the fourth-round pick will make the game day roster or not. But under the mentorship and guidance of not only Hoyer but also Jones, Zappe will have the tools to learn how the game is played in the NFL and improve upon some of his weaker points.

His presence could also benefit Jones, giving him a bit of a competitive feeling throughout camp and preseason. As rookie mini camp kicks off this week, and OTA’s shortly thereafter, we will get a glimpse of where Zappe is at currently. And have an easier way of projecting his stance with the team from evaluating his performance.

D’Eriq King

Despite the fact that they chose to draft another quarterback in this year’s draft, the Patriots signed D’Eriq King as an undrafted free agent. His signing is a bit open to interpretation, however, because although he is listed as a quarterback, King has also played as a wide receiver and running back throughout college.

Assuming he makes the roster, the possibilities for the Patriots in how to use King are endless. He’s a true Swiss army knife type of player, capable of succeeding at many different positions. Given their current depth chart, it seems unlikely they would choose to use him in a traditional quarterback role. But because of the rise in trick-plays used in recent seasons, King could be involved if those plays are in the game plan.

It’s fair to assume that King will be on the field in different capacities this upcoming season. He is far too talented with a vast skill set to sit on the bench the entirety of his rookie year.

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