Patriots

Who will be Tom Brady's backup now that Jimmy Garoppolo is gone?

Who will be Tom Brady's backup now that Jimmy Garoppolo is gone?

On the night the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round more than three years ago, adding him to a quarterback room that featured Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, Bill Belichick explained his team's reasoning.

"We know what Ryan’s contract situation is. We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is," Belichick said. "I don’t think you want to have one quarterback on your team. I don’t think that’s responsible to the entire team or the organization."

Now that the team has opted to send Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick, that's what the Patriots are at the moment: A one-quarterback team. 

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It won't last long, of course. They'll bring in someone to back up Brady in the immediate future. Then perhaps in the spring, during what is considered to be a draft loaded with quarterback talent, they'll add a longer-term option as the No. 2. 

But let's focus on the here-and-now: Who will be the next man up should Brady be forced to miss any time in 2017? 

The first and most obvious option might be former 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer. Soon after the news of the Garoppolo trade was confirmed, ESPN reported that Hoyer had been released by San Francisco. And NFL Network reported that Hoyer was actually included in the trade initially. 

Hoyer signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and spent three seasons in New England as Brady's backup. Since being released before the start of the 2012 season, he's spent time with the Steelers, Cardinals, Browns, Texans, Bears and Niners. 

This season in San Francisco he has completed 119 of 205 attempts (58 percent) for 1,245 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. For his career, the 32-year-old carries a 59.3 completion percentage and he's thrown 48 touchdowns against 30 picks. 

Other backup options for the Patriots now that they're without Garoppolo and 2016 third-round pick Jacoby Brissett, who was dealt to the Colts earlier this season in exchange for receiver Phillip Dorsett? 

The Patriots have reportedly worked out three quarterbacks who are still available, including Matt Barkley, Thad Lewis and Matt McGloin

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots also worked out quarterback Garrett Grayson earlier this month. The 26-year-old, a third-round pick of the Saints in 2015, signed with the Falcons practice squad soon thereafter. 

Another option might be former Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who was with the Patriots practice squad in late September and early October before being released. An undrafted player in 2015, Heinicke had an impressive preseason during his rookie year and ended up as the team's third-string quarterback. He dealt with injuries last season and had trouble re-gaining his first-year form this summer. 

The player who makes the most sense would be Hoyer because of his experience and his background in the Patriots offense. But just because it makes sense doesn't mean it will happen. 

Just a few hours ago it made all the sense in the world for Belichick to hold onto Garoppolo for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Gronk question now makes tight end a position of need

Gronk question now makes tight end a position of need

Before free agency kicks off, and before we dissect the top college prospects entering this year's draft, we're taking a look at the Patriots on a position-by-position basis to provide you with an offseason primer of sorts. We'll be analyzing how the Patriots performed in 2017 at the position in question, who's under contract, how badly the team needs to add talent at that spot, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today. we're looking at a position where the Patriots have arguably the best player that’s ever manned it in his presumed prime. But tight end is suddenly a tenuous spot for New England.

OTHER ENTRIES IN THE SERIES

HOW THEY PERFORMED


This became – contrary to the Patriots hopes – a one-man position. Rob Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games. The rest of the tight ends – Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister and Martellus Bennett – combined for 20 catches and six of those came from Bennett who played just two games before heading to injured reserve. Gronk was – and is – the best tight end in the game and one of its most dominating offensive weapons. After losing Julian Edelman in the preseason, the Patriots offense became tremendously Gronk-reliant. They got away with it. But they clearly wanted more from Dwayne Allen than what they got or they wouldn’t have gone after Bennett when he became available.

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018?
Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett, Will Tye, Jacob Hollister

WHO IS NOT?
All tight ends on the roster are under contract.

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED?


Publicity grab or legitimate consideration? What exactly to make of Gronk’s reported dalliance with the WWE and his idle desire to be an action movie star (also reported)? Both have the earmarks of brand-building genius. It’s a page torn from the business plans of Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard or Conor McGregor – ruminating on retirement and expressing interest in other public pursuits exponentially ratchets up public interest in both the main gig and the potential side gig. Gronk himself might not be that savvy and calculating to mildly hold the Patriots fortunes hostage but Gronk Inc. certainly is. Then again, maybe he legitimately is weighing it. The “will he or won’t he” conversation will sustain buzz and has to in some way impact the Patriots’ offseason plans. The presumption has to be that Gronk returns but this is anything but a layup. Which means the need is a Level-8

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY?


There is a nice crop of tight ends hitting the market. Virtually all of them come with the same nagging health issues that Gronk has (had). Jimmy Graham is the biggest name in the group. His tepid blocking skills may make him unattractive to the Patriots, but never let it be said the Pats don’t like to take a flier on a once-electric player who’s on the backside. At 31, Graham’s coming off a 10-touchdown season, though his yards per catch went down to 9.1. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see New England pursue. The Eagles' second tight end, Trey Burton, is 26 and stuck behind Zach Ertz. An undrafted rookie, the kid who threw the touchdown pass to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl is targeted sparingly in Philly but is a smooth player. He also plays special teams (boing!). Austin Sefarian-Jenkins finally got his stuff together with the Jets in 2017 and he’s only 25. He’s no dummy, he’s only acted like one in the past and it seems like he’s got a handle on it now. He’d need face-to-face vetting but he’s got upside. Then there’s Tyler Eifert. Still just 27, Eifert’s played in 10 games the past two seasons and had season-ending back surgery in the fall (it was performed by the same doctor who treated Gronk). He’s played 39 games in five seasons. Terrific talent. Always broken.

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT?


I like this Dallas Goedert kid from South Dakota State. Also, Dalton Schultz from Stanford gets checkmarks as a blocker and competent receiver. Neither of them are first-round prospects at this point. Hayden Hurst from South Carolina and Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews are regarded as the top prospects. Hurst is a very good pass-catcher with a huge catch radius. He’s a 24-year-old former Pittsburgh Pirates draftee. Andrews is smooth as a receiver but not seen as a potent blocker. Same with Mike Gesicki from Penn State who’s the best athlete along with Hurst but doesn’t impress with his blocking.

HOW CAN THE PATRIOTS ADDRESS IT?


Assuming Gronk is returning, the Patriots can go at it a number of ways. There’s not a “can’t miss” prospect out there, so drafting Hurst or Gesicki in the first couple of rounds means they’ll have to live with the shortcomings or hope they can improve them. Given other needs, they may not want to spend on “maybes” near the top of the draft. Too many drafts have been like that, especially with second-rounders. It seems unlikely they’ll be really interested in counting on either Allen or Bennett to provide anything in 2018. If they take a run at the Eagles’ Burton and pay him a crapload, Gronk will lose his mind. Screw it. They should take Hurst. We will change our minds several times between now and April but that’s where we are now.

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Julian Edelman posts video of resistance-band training

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File Photo

Julian Edelman posts video of resistance-band training

Julian Edelman is grinding.

The New England Patriots receiver, who is recovering from an ACL repair surgery that ended his 2017 season, shared a quick video from his workout on Tuesday. Edelman is shown running with a resistance band and a trainer in-tow.

Edelman has posted a few tidbits on social media to show encouraging signs during his recovery since he got surgery in October after suffering an ACL tear in a preseason game. He was spotted around the locker room a few times during the final weeks of the 2017 season.

"Rehab is a [expletive]. It sucks," Edelman said in November on Barstool Sports' "Pardon My Take podcast." "You go in and you’re feeling decent and then you warm up, you beat it up and then you get stiff again. I mean it’s just a process and you go in six days a week and you’re going into work it, work on everything — your flexion, your extension."