Even if Bridgewater is available, Patriots can afford to pass

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Even if Bridgewater is available, Patriots can afford to pass

The quarterback market looks like it's going to be a little more crowded. We think. 

For teams in need of a passer Kirk Cousins will be available via free agency. Same goes for AJ McCarron, Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Josh McCown and Tom Savage. Even Drew Brees could be had, though it's expected he'll re-sign with the Saints. Then there are the five or six quarterback who could be taken in the first round of the draft, and the five or six more who could be taken before the fourth round is up. 

Then there's Teddy Bridgewater. His case is a little complicated. 

NFL Media has reported that Bridgewater is expected to be a free agent when the new league year begins next month. That would mean that Bridgewater, who spent six games on the physically unable to perform list last season, would not have his contract toll from 2017 to 2018. 

The NFL has told Pro Football Talk that no decision has been made in regards to Bridgewater's contract status so we're still waiting on that. However, because the Patriots could be on the lookout for The Next Guy, Bridgewater's potential availability is worth mulling over. 

We're just not going to mull too hard.

Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury right before the end of the 2016 preseason, dislocating his left knee as well as tearing his ACL and other ligaments during a non-contact practice drill. 

Fourteen months later, in November, he was back at practice and backing up Keenum. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said last month that the team had tracked 24 similar knee injuries in other athletes and determined that half never returned to action. The quickest recovery before Bridgewater's, according to Zimmer, was 24 months. 

"I think he's doing good now," Zimmer said, per ESPN. "He's at the point where he can play. You just have to work through figuring out where he's at in that because obviously, we didn't get to see him through games."

And that's what will make it hard for the Patriots to invest in Bridgewater going forward. There's so much uncertainty that using a roster spot to give Bridgewater time to find his footing behind Tom Brady doesn't seem all that logical. 

Bridgewater is still young; he'll turn 26 next season. In 2015, the last time he was a starter, he was named a Pro Bowler, throwing for 3,231 yards on 65.3 percent passing, and running for an average of 4.4 yards per carry on 44 attempts. He certainly proved he was a more than capable starter in his sophomore season, and his accuracy (10th in completion percentage) put his name among the league's best.

Bridgewater won't be looking to break the bank on his next deal, and perhaps a workout and a battery of tests on his knee will make the Patriots feel like he's worth a low-risk shot. The idea may seem like an even better one if he's still available after the initial wave of free-agency and the Patriots aren't able to get their hands on a quarterback they like in this year's draft class. 

The problem is the last time anyone saw Bridgewater take a meaningful snap was over two years ago. And that's hard to get around. 

With a plethora of intriguing quarterbacks in this year's draft, and with Brian Hoyer already under contract as a trusted backup, the Patriots can probably afford to let another club take their shot on Bridgewater's comeback.


Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

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Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

If anyone could provide insight into what Bill Belichick and the Patriots might be thinking on the eve of the NFL draft, it's Michael Lombardi. The former Pats staffer and Belichick confidant once dubbed "one of the smartest people I know" by the coach.

Lombardi joined Phil Perry this week on "The Next Pats Podcast" to look ahead to a draft he doesn't seem enamored with - particularly at quarterback for those thinking the heir to Tom Brady might be selected this weekend.

Lombardi was on Belichick's staff the last time that attempt was made - when Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in 2014.

"Tom has defeated Father Time," Lombardi told Perry. "When we drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, did anybody think Tom would last another five years?  Anybody who said yes, other than Tom, probably wasn't telling the truth. Tom's just remarkable..."

As for this draft class of QBs, Lombardi said: "I'm not sure there's a quarterback in this draft, [rumored No. 1 pick Kyler] Murray included, who doesn't have some kind of fault in them...I have a hard time looking at this draft and saying [of the QBs] this guy's a Day 1 starter or a Pro Bowl player. "

Lombardi echoed Belichick's comments at the coach's pre-draft meeting with the media about the difficulty involved in evaluating college passers because of the level of competition they're coming from.

"Nobody ever talks about the level of competition and that's really the challenge of evaluating college players," Lombardi said. "When you watch pro players it's easy because they're going against other pro players."

And what might the Pats be looking for tomorrow night with pick No. 32? Lombardi sees them leaning toward defense.

"I think the thing about the Patriots is they realize that they've got to get a good player at 32," he told Perry. "If it's a corner that they like, that can come in and play a role for them this year, I think they could pick the corner. If there happened to be a linebacker or a defensive end that could rush, they can do that. It's going to be what the player's skill set is, what he could do this year and what impact he could utilize within there. You know there's always the chance he [Belichick] could trade down for more second-round picks."

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Julian Edelman recruits Zion Williamson to be new Patriots tight end

Julian Edelman recruits Zion Williamson to be new Patriots tight end

Zion Williamson in all likelihood will be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but Julian Edelman still made his best pitch for the Duke standout to join the Patriots instead.

Edelman tweeted out a photoshopped image of Williamson holding up a Patriots jersey with Robert and Jonathan Kraft, and he let the 6-foot-10 18-year-old know about the Pats' open tight end position.

Edelman isn't the only Patriot recruiting athletes from other sports to take Rob Gronkowski's place at tight end. Tom Brady did the same Tuesday night with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.

As for how the Patriots are realistically filling Gronk's void, they signed both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse in free agency. They also could look to add more depth at the position via the NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday.

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