Sometimes it helps just to have another big brain in the room. The Patriots added one at the quarterback spot when they re-signed Brian Hoyer as a free agent this week.
Hoyer's agent, Joe Linta, announced Monday that night his client will return to New England for a fourth go-round with the team that originally signed him as an undrafted rookie in 2009. Hoyer spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the Patriots, did a year abroad in Indianapolis, then returned for the 2020 season before becoming a free agent back in March.
Hoyer's addition means the Patriots quarterback depth chart is now four deep with Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and rookie first-round draft choice Mac Jones in the mix.
What does it mean, the addition of a 35-year-old who has played for eight teams over the course of his career?
It means a little more depth for Bill Belichick's quarterback room. It means added experience. It means there's a well-versed Patriots quarterback present to answer questions for folks who have them. It means there's another professional around to set an example.
After drafting Jones in the top half of the first round, the Patriots are going to want to invest in him in such a way that they are maximizing his potential at every turn. Outside of surrounding him with good offensive linemen, pass-catchers and coaches, surrounding him with teammates he can observe and learn from would also be beneficial.
Hoyer's understanding of the offense and professional approach -- and how those things could positively impact Jones -- are easy side benefits to whatever Hoyer brings to the team on the field as an added camp arm and a potential backup.
Having good veteran examples to look up to is something that Tom Brady has previously discussed as an all-natural performance-enhancer. As a rookie, he had the opportunity to learn from veterans like Drew Bledsoe and John Friesz. Later it was Damon Huard, Vinny Testaverde and others.
"Well, I was a young player once too, and I had a lot of older players that I worked with so I think I learned from those experiences," Brady said back in 2019. "I had some great mentors, people that really taught me how to play the position. It was great at a young age to have John Friesz and Drew, and then to have Damon Huard and to have Vinny and to have Doug [Flutie] ...
"So I've played with so many great guys over the years. I think for quarterback, it's my belief that when you play a team sport, the best guy plays because that's what's best for the team, and the other guys support that position ... support that position the best way they can, in whatever role they're asked to do."
Who better to "support" the position than Hoyer?
"He knows our offense inside and out," Belichick said of Hoyer back in 2018.
Outside of Josh McDaniels and Belichick, there may not be a person in the organization who understands the offense as well as Hoyer does.
Jones is brand new. Stidham is going into his third season, but really only his second pro offseason after last year's was cut short. Newton is going into his first full offseason with the Patriots and acknowledged that there were times last season where he was still wrapping his head around everything asked of him.
The Patriots, in all likelihood, won't be carrying four quarterbacks into the regular season. They haven't done that since keeping Brady as a rookie in 2000. They often kept only two when Brady was the top option.
Newton is the No. 1 at the moment, Belichick said during draft weekend. Jones isn't going anywhere. And if there's room for a third, there could be some competition now.
Hoyer earned the No. 2 gig last season over Stidham out of training camp, and he was given the starting nod in Week 4 against the Chiefs when Newton was out after testing positive for COVID-19. Hoyer was eventually pulled from the game against Kansas City and Stidham was inserted after Hoyer struggled in critical red-zone and end-of-half situations. The No. 2 job was Stidham's for the rest of the 2020 season.
Maybe the Patriots just wanted another arm for OTAs and training camp, though there are now a lot of quarterback mouths to feed reps-wise.
Maybe they just wanted an extra sounding board for Jones as he develops this summer.
But if the Patriots are open to employing a year-long tutor of sorts for their young first-round pick, a veteran who understands the Patriots system the way they want to run it -- and if that's more valued than having a second young player with upside going into the season -- that's something Hoyer would bring to the table over anyone else currently on the depth chart.