Patriots

Perry: Patriots were looking for 'The Next Guy,' after all

Perry: Patriots were looking for 'The Next Guy,' after all

It sounds as though the Patriots identified a player they believed could be "The Next Guy." It was Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Their only problem? They probably would've had to give away a haul of 2018 picks stacked on a fistful of future picks to make it happen.

Andrew Brandt, a contributor to the Athletic and TheMMQB.com, hosted Mayfield's agent Jack Mills on a podcast that was released Tuesday. Mills said that the Patriots were thinking about going all the way from No. 23 to No. 2 in order to draft the former Oklahoma quarterback.

"We knew [the New York Jets at No. 3] was the bottom line," Mills said. “We had another team, which is going to surprise you, another team had said, ‘You may get a big surprise on draft day at No. 2 if he’s available.' It was the Patriots.

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"They had [No.] 23, and they had [No.] 31, and they had two seconds, and I don’t know. We thought, boy, that’s going to be a heck of a move to get up that high from where they are. And of course, he wasn’t available, so we never knew if that was a reality or not."

Judging by the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart, the Patriots would've had to be willing to part with a mess of draft choices in order to come up with a fair deal with the Giants for No. 2 overall.

Of course, maybe the Giants were interested in a package that included a combination of picks and a player (or multiple players) that would've allowed the Patriots to move up. But the bottom line is that a deal like that would've required a willingness from Belichick to give up serious value.

Had the Browns passed on Mayfield at No. 1, and had the Patriots found a way to get to No. 2, he would've broken the mold relative to what the Patriots have drafted in the past. At a shade under 6-foot-1, he would've been the shortest quarterback taken by the Patriots since Bill Belichick took over the war room in 2000, and he would've likely signalled a change in offensive scheme for whenever Tom Brady moved on. 

Mayfield is almost two full inches shorter than Jimmy Garoppolo, who projected as a pocket passer with enough mobility to get away from pressure and extend plays. Mayfield, at his height, several evaluators believe, could have trouble having consistent success from the pocket where quarterbacks are often expected to scan the field and make across-the-field progressions to find their best option. 

Mayfield's playing style as a pro remains to be seen. Will he work from the pocket? Or will he rely on bootlegs, roll-outs, and other types of plays designed to create throwing windows for a shorter quarterback? Whatever Mayfield did in the Big 12, he made it work. He put together what was arguably one of the best careers in the history of college football. He was arguably the most accurate quarterback in this year's draft class. But relative to the defenses he faced at Oklahoma, the jump to the NFL will be a massive one for him.

Still, if the Patriots were willing to trade up to No. 2 to get Mayfield, it's clear they would've been open to doing whatever they needed in order for him to find success -- including shifting gears from an offense that has worked so well for them during Brady's career. 

The biggest takeaway from Mills' comments, though, isn't that the Patriots would've been willing to change their offense for their next quarterback. It's that the Patriots were willing to part with significant capital to find Brady's successor, even after the 40-year-old took home last season's MVP.

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When the Patriots waited until the seventh round last weekend to take LSU quarterback Danny Etling, it looked like they were content with snagging a training camp arm who was a longshot to make the 53-man roster. But their interest in Mayfield, and their willingness to jump 29 spots to get him, is an indication that they were very seriously in the market for "The Next Guy." Mayfield was simply the only one they believed in strongly enough to climb the board for. The Patriots passed on Lamar Jackson twice in the first round, and they apparently did not make a move to sneak up to grab Josh Allen or Josh Rosen. (The Jets picked Sam Darnold at No. 3 and weren't trading with their division rivals.)

The fact that they were open to giving up everything they would've had to give up to get to No. 2 shows just how much they're willing to pay to make sure that position is capably manned. With a first-rounder, two seconds and three thirds (including projected compensatory picks) in next year's draft, the Patriots will have plenty of capital to try to climb the board next year . . . if there's someone there they think is worth the cost. 

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Derrick Henry: Tom Brady the 'GOAT', but why wouldn't we want Ryan Tannehill back?

Derrick Henry: Tom Brady the 'GOAT', but why wouldn't we want Ryan Tannehill back?

If Tom Brady decides to leave the New England Patriots after winning six Super Bowl championships in 20 years with the franchise, one interesting free agent destination for him to consider is the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Wild Card round this past season thanks in large part to the efforts of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry. Henry, in particular, dominated the Patriots' highly rated defense with 182 rushing yards and a touchdown in the Titans' upset victory. Both of these players can become unrestricted free agents when the market opens in March, and even though Tannehill was great for the Titans in 2019, the idea of possibly acquiring a quarterback of Brady's caliber would be intriguing.

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Henry recently was asked on Barstool Sports' "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast about what he would think if Brady came to the Titans. The veteran running back had plenty of praise for the 42-year-old quarterback, but it's clear he's a fan of Tannehill's ability to help the Titans win going forward.

"I would think: Why isn't Ryan Tannehill good enough?" Henry said. "(Brady) still can play. Obviously, age doesn't matter for him, he's still playing at a high level, so my question would be, why isn't Ryan good enough, you know?"

Tannehill took over as the Titans' starting quarterback in Week 7 and helped the team earn a wild-card playoff berth with a 7-3 finish to the regular season. The Titans upset the Patriots and No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs -- both on the road -- before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

Tannehill proved, for the first time in his career, that he's able to make winning plays in the postseason. The Titans would be wise to bring him back given how explosive their offense became after he was named the starter.

"Tom Brady is the GOAT," Henry reiterated later in the podcast. "That is no question at all. The best of all time. But then, at the same time, I mean, Ryan Tannehill is our quarterback, went to the AFC Championship. Why would we not want Ryan back? Just wanted to clear that up, Tom Brady is the GOAT."

Brady and Tannehill are among the best players in what's expected to be a loaded class of free agent quarterbacks, and where these two sign no doubt will have a profound impact on the balance of power in the AFC.  

Curran on Brady's future: Where we stand and what's next

How Drew Brees' return impacts Tom Brady, Patriots and NFL free agency

How Drew Brees' return impacts Tom Brady, Patriots and NFL free agency

The New Orleans Saints should feel confident at least one of their three quarterbacks will return for the 2020 NFL season.

Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees announced Tuesday on Instagram that he's coming back for what will be his 20th pro season. Brees didn't explicitly say he's returning to the Saints, but the language in his Instagram post makes it sound like New Orleans is the likely destination.

How does Brees' decision impact Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as free agency nears? Let's take a look.

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1. Will Teddy Bridgewater and/or Taysom Hill leave the Saints?
It's unreasonable to expect Brees, Bridgewater and Hill all to be back in New Orleans next season. The Saints, according to OvertheCap.com, have the sixth-lowest salary cap space in the league and we don't yet know what Brees' 2020 salary will be. 

Bridgewater went 5-0 and played quite well in Brees' absence in 2019. He deserves to be a starter somewhere, and according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, there could be a robust market for the young quarterback.

Hill has been used in a variety of roles for the Saints, including quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He's among the most versatile players in the league and should receive a nice raise from whichever team signs him this offseason. It should be noted Hill is a restricted free agent, so it's a little easier for the Saints to keep him. Bridgewater is an unrestricted free agent.

Brees and Hill coming back, with the latter having a larger role in the offense, probably is the best-case scenario for the Saints. They should again be among the top contenders in the NFC as long as Brees is healthy next season.

2. Teddy Bridgewater is an intriguing Tom Brady replacement
Bridgewater would be among the best options for the Patriots if Brady were to leave in free agency. Brady, after the spending the last 20 seasons with the Patriots, has the ability to be a UFA for the first time in his career in March.

Brady obviously would be the best quarterback available if he reached the open market, but he'll be 43 years old in August. Teams looking for a more long-term answer at quarterback now are likely to have another good option in Bridgewater, who's only 27 years old.

Bridgewater completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,384 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions in nine appearances for the Saints in 2019. Two of his wins as a starter came against quality opponents in the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

He has not been a full-time starter since 2015, one year before he suffered a major knee injury. That said, Bridgewater is still young and ranks among the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. The resiliency he's shown to bounce back from a horrific injury and become a starting-caliber quarterback again has been quite impressive.

3. Cross one name off the top free agent QBs list
The 2020 class of free agent quarterbacks is pretty strong, even if Brees returns to the Saints.

In addition to Brady and Bridgewater, other players who could be available include Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Philip Rivers and Case Keenum. Teams looking to upgrade at quarterback in free agency should have plenty of options to consider once the market opens in March. 

4. NFL record books
Brady and Brees had a good duel in 2019 for the most regular season touchdown passes in league history, and with both quarterbacks set to play in 2020, that battle will resume in September. 


Click for the top free agent QBs in 2020