NFL Draft Rumors: Patriots interested in this quarterback prospect

NFL Draft Rumors: Patriots interested in this quarterback prospect

The New England Patriots lost Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency this offseason. And as a result, the team is going to be searching for a new full-time starter at quarterback for the first time in 20 years.

Original indications are that the Patriots view Jarrett Stidham as their future starter. Stidham, a fourth-round pick in 2019, saw minimal action as a rookie but looked good in the preseason. Aside from him, the team has Brian Hoyer, who just returned to the team on a one-year deal after spending last season with the Indianapolis Colts, and Cody Kessler, a veteran who provided depth behind Stidham last year.

But the Patriots may not be done at the quarterback position. They may not target the bigger names available on the quarterback free agent and trade markets like Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton. But they could invest in a 2020 draft pick to compete with Stidham for the starting gig.

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According to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle, the Patriots are among many teams eying a particular quarterback. That would be Florida International University's James Morgan.

Morgan played four years of college football and spent two at Bowling Green State University and the other two at FIU. In his final collegiate season, he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,585 yards, 14 touchdowns, and five interceptions. In the previous season, he set a school-record with 26 touchdown passes and completed 65 percent of his passes.

Morgan (6-foot-4, 229 pounds) has had a good offseason so far. He looked good at the East-West Shrine Game and's Daniel Jeremiah named him the week's Offensive MVP. He built on that strong performance at the 2020 NFL Combine, as Aaron Wilson detailed that Morgan "interviewed well" at the event:

Florida International quarterback James Morgan created a lot of buzz at the NFL scouting combine with [his] combination of arm strength, size and leadership skills.

That description would seemingly fit a Patriot well. So, it's easy to see why the team might be interested in Morgan at this point in time.

Still, it's too early to predict exactly which quarterback the Patriots may target. They rarely tip their hand ahead of the draft and there are a number of passers that could ultimately interest the team, including one that our own Phil Perry mocked to the team in his latest Patriots seven-round mock draft

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

Bill Belichick confident in Patriots' safety protocols despite opt-outs

The New England Patriots already have had eight players opt out of the 2020 NFL season, and few would blame Bill Belichick -- the oldest head coach in the league at 68 -- if he made a similar decision.

So, did concerns about COVID-19 lead Belichick to consider not coaching in 2020? It doesn't appear so.

"I feel very good about the environment that we're in," Belichick said Friday in a video conference with reporters. "I feel fine."

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Belichick also confirmed no coaches on his staff have backed out of the 2020 season.

The Patriots are in the "acclimation period" of training camp, with players going through non-padded walk-throughs outside Gillette Stadium as they ramp up for their first padded practice on Aug. 17.

According to Belichick, the players and staff in the building feel confident in their safety so far.

"I can't speak for everybody, but I think my impression is that as an organization, as a coaching staff, the support people, the players -- there's a comfort level with what we're doing and who's doing it and how we're doing it, and we're being productive," Belichick said.

"So, if concerns or problems come up, then we'll address those. But right now, I think it's a good working environment. We're getting a lot done."

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The Patriots, like every other team, have to follow rigorous safety protocols that include frequent COVID-19 tests, temperature checks and physical distancing measures. That "new normal" will take some getting used to, but Belichick believes the protocols have helped create an environment that coaches and staff feel safe in.

"The organization has taken a lot of steps to ensure everyone's safety and opportunity to do their job and do it safely and do it productively," Belichick said. 

"Certainly there's a lot of responsibility on each one of us to do things in a way that doesn't affect others negatively, that we take the proper precautions that we can and should, so that's what we're doing."

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu shouts out Cam Newton in Patriots practice Instagram post

Mohamed Sanu finally doesn't have to fly across the country to work out with his new quarterback.

The New England Patriots began Phase 1 of training camp this week by hitting the practice field as a team outside Gillette Stadium.

That means Cam Newton joined his Patriots teammates in an official capacity for the first time, and Sanu seems pretty excited about having his new quarterback in the building.

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Here's the Instagram shout-out Sanu gave Newton Thursday on Instagram via a photo of the two in Patriots gear at training camp:

View this post on Instagram

Beannnn & Ace booogie wit da hoodie

A post shared by Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@mohamedsanu) on

Sanu and Newton teamed up for informal throwing sessions in Los Angeles just days after the 31-year-old quarterback signed with the Patriots in free agency and appeared to develop a strong connection.

Like Newton, Sanu has a lot to prove this season after an ankle injury plagued his 2019 campaign with New England. The 30-year-old sprained his ankle in his second game with the Patriots last season after a midseason trade from the Atlanta Falcons and caught three passes or fewer in his final six games of the season.

Sanu projects to be the Patriots' No. 2 wide receiver this season behind Julian Edelman, so if he can stay healthy, he could go a long way in helping Newton and the Patriots finding success this season despite a wave of player opt-outs.