Patriots fans should be encouraged by these scouts' takes on Jarrett Stidham

Patriots fans should be encouraged by these scouts' takes on Jarrett Stidham

Critics of the Patriots have been claiming for years that the team's dynasty is about to end, and Tom Brady's recent decision to leave the franchise after winning six Super Bowl titles in 20 years has only intensified the talk of New England's impending fall.

Losing a player of Brady's caliber certainly will impact the Patriots on and off the field, but there are reasons to believe they will again fight for the AFC East title in 2020. One of those reasons is second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who the Patriots selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Stidham won the backup job last summer, and even though he didn't get many regular season reps, he showed flashes of his impressive potential throughout training camp, the preseason and various in-season practices.

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He also benefitted from spending his rookie year learning from a legendary quarterback and the best head coach of all-time in Bill Belichick. He should at least be well-prepared for the monumental challenge of replacing Brady. Whether he will succeed remains to be seen.

Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report recently talked to some scouts (and other people in the football world) and received some interesting takes on Stidham, and much of the analysis was positive.

"He's a lot closer to playoff quarterback than another guy who falls on his face replacing a legend," one NFL scout tells B/R.

There was plenty pre-draft talk about how Auburn's offense didn't bring out the best of Stidham's talents, and that because of this scenario, the Patriots found tremendous value in the fourth round. One scout told Hayes he "begged" his team to draft Stidham.

"Knowing Bill, he's excited about taking this big ball of clay and molding it into his image," another scout says. "I've always thought Stidham was way undervalued as a fourth-round pick. I begged our guys to take him. He has so much more ability than he was able to show in college."

The praise Stidham has received from scouts, teammates and others has not slowed the debate over whether the Patriots should bring in another quarterback before next season. Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer are the only quarterbacks on New England's roster after Cody Kessler was released last week.

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Signing a veteran QB in free agency doesn't make much for the Patriots, especially when you consider how little salary cap space they have at their disposal. Let's not forget the Patriots are among the leaders in dead money for 2020, including $13.5 million against the 2020 salary cap from Brady's previous contract. They don't have the luxury of being able to spend large chunks of money on roster upgrades.

Selecting a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft is an interesting idea, but the Patriots have so many other needs on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense, where many key players from last season's unit have left via free agency or trades over the last few weeks. The Patriots have the second-most 2020 draft picks with 12, but only one falls in the top 86. So, unless the Patriots use their first-rounder (23rd overall) on a quarterback, many of the best players at that position likely will be off the board by the time New England is back on the clock in the third round.

Stidham is the best option for the Patriots, and surrounding him with the most talent possible on offense before Week 1 should be among the team's top objectives for the remainder of the offseason.

Kraft family issues statement on George Floyd's death: 'We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed'


Kraft family issues statement on George Floyd's death: 'We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed'

The New England Patriots reacted Tuesday night to the death of George Floyd by releasing a statement from the Kraft family.

Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody last week, which has led to protests over racial injustice throughout the United States over the last several days. 

Here is the Kraft family statement in full:

"Over the last several days, we have tried to listen, learn and reflect. We have been at a loss for the appropriate words, perhaps because there are none to adequately describe the horrific incidents of the last few weeks. It is impossible for us to comprehend what happened to George Floyd or the pain his family must be feeling, a pain that resonates with so many others who have lost loved ones in similar brutalities that were not captured on video for the rest of the world to see. We cannot begin to understand the frustration and fear members of our black community have faced for generations. Recent events have shined a light on a topic that demands much more attention.

"Our country deeply needs healing. We don't have the answers, but we do know that we want to be a part of the change. As leaders in the New England community, we must speak up. Here is where our family, and our organization, stands:

"We are horrified by the acts of racism we've witnessed. We are heartbroken for the families who have lost loved ones, and we are devastated for our communities of color, who are sad, who are exhausted, who are suffering. We know that none of the sadness, exhaustion or suffering is new. We know it is systemic. Our eyes, ears and hearts are open.

"Our family has a long history of supporting vulnerable people in our communities and advocating for equality. But past efforts don't mean anything until we all stand on equal footing in America, so we must act in the present, and not simply rely on what we've done in the past. There remains much work to be done. We will not rest on statements, because words without actions are void. Rather, we will work harder than ever before – through our philanthropy, community engagement, advocacy and supporting the work of our players – to build bridges, to promote equality, to stand up for what's right and to value ALL people."

Could Patriots ranking among dead money leaders cost team in 2020?

Could Patriots ranking among dead money leaders cost team in 2020?

The New England Patriots have won six Super Bowls over the last 20 years in part by spending wisely.

Is that all about to change?

The Patriots currently have the least amount of cap space of any NFL team at $1.85 million, per Spotrac. Part of the reason for that is the amount of money they're paying to players who won't play for them in 2020 -- otherwise known as "dead money."

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In fact, New England currently owes $24 million in "dead money," which according to Spotrac puts the team in dubious company.

Let's just say the Panthers, Jaguars, Rams and Dolphins aren't expected to be Super Bowl contenders in 2020.

And if the last four seasons are any indication, the Patriots would be bucking a trend just by going 9-7 in their first season of the post-Tom Brady era.

Brady is the primary reason why New England is in this position: He accounts for $13.5 million of that $24 million number, while Antonio Brown is next-closest with $4.5 million in dead money owed.

But such was the contract that Brady signed last August that gave him a potential out in 2020 -- one he took to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than take another pay cut to stay in New England.

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The Patriots, who have signed all of their 2020 draft picks, still can create extra cap space by trading or extending offensive guard Joe Thuney, who currently has a $14.7 million cap hit that's second-highest on the team.

New England also could restructure the deals of several other players -- like it did recently with Patrick Chung -- to free up more space.

That dead money isn't going away, though, so Bill Belichick and presumptive starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham have another historic precedent to overcome this season.