As the Patriots have tried to push for a playoff spot without a semblance of a passing game, an easy talker is whether you'd take [insert quarterback name] on the Patriots next season.
It feels like we've repeated the same names every time we do this: Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Darnold, etc ...
Here's one that hasn't seemed to come up and hadn't dawned on me until over the weekend: What about Gardner Minshew? He seems like a perfect candidate to be one of what should be multiple quarterbacks the Patriots bring in this offseason.
Darnold seems expendable for the Jets because the team is doing what it can to get the first overall pick to spend on an elite option (in their case, Trevor Lawrence), but isn't that what the Jaguars are doing, too?
Entering Sunday, Minshew had 13 passing touchdowns and five picks over seven games in a horrible Jaguars offense before a thumb injury kept him out of the lineup from Week 9 going forward. He got healthy, but the team decided to stick with Mike Glennon.
Glennon, as you probably know, stinks. For all the warranted accusations thrown at the Jets for possibly tanking, I'll argue there's been no more overt case of tanking this season than the Jaguars' handling of the quarterback situation. It's easy to look at it and wonder if they're keeping Minshew out because he gives a one-win team too good a chance of winning.
Minshew, drafted two rounds after Jarrett Stidham in 2019, is 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds. He's an accurate passer, and though either you or I might have a stronger arm than him, the Patriots just had Tom Brady for a zillion years. They don't prioritize the deep ball.
Once Sunday's loss to the Titans was out of hand, the Jaguars replaced Glennon with Minshew in the third quarter. Minshew went 18-of-31 for 178 yards with a touchdown, no picks and 22 rush yards, a vast improvement on Glennon's performance (13-of-23, no touchdowns, a pick and a QB rating that was nearly half of Minshew's).
So the Jaguars will probably get a top-two pick and draft a quarterback, putting Minshew in a similar situation to Darnold. I find it hard to see the Jets actually trading Darnold to the Pats, but let's just entertain it and look at the two quarterbacks' numbers this season:
- Darnold (third season): 9 GP, 58.4 completion %, 5 TD, 9 INT, 67.3 passer rating, 2 rush TD
- Minshew (second season): 8 GP, 65.1 completion %, 14 TD, 5 INT, 93.4 passer rating, 1 rush TD
So when we're talking about a quarterback who'll be available because his team is tanking, aren't we bringing up the wrong guy?
Darnold is a first-round pick with pedigree. Minshew is a sixth-rounder with less tape. The guess is Minshew would cost less, so if I'm the Patriots, I'd trade something like a fourth-rounder -- which is what they spent on Stidham -- for him.
This isn't to say I want to declare Minshew the quarterback of the future, but for a team without direction at the position, Minshew makes sense. He's young, cheap and is at least starting-caliber.
If the Patriots don't think Stidham is good enough to have replaced Cam Newton by now, he probably shouldn't be on the roster next season. Newton could make sense as a cheap veteran to start a couple games if the Pats select a quarterback high in the draft.
Or the Patriots could bring neither player back and use Minshew as either a placeholder starter/competition for a highly-drafted option or as competition for a veteran brought in via free agency.
This season should have made it clear the Patriots need to throw darts -- that's multiple, with an "s" -- at the quarterback position. We've rattled off a lot of names, but assuming the price isn't prohibitive, Minshew would be a very logical one.