Cody Kessler

Patriots release Cody Kessler, leaving two QBs on roster

Patriots release Cody Kessler, leaving two QBs on roster

The New England Patriots are down to just two quarterbacks on their roster.

Update (Wednesday, April 1 at 5 p.m. ET): The Patriots have officially announced the release of quarterback Cody Kessler.

--End of Update--

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the Patriots are releasing veteran quarterback Cody Kessler.

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Kessler was signed by the Patriots in September, then was released in October and signed again later that month. He finished the 2019 season as the Patriots' third-string quarterback behind starter Tom Brady and rookie backup Jarrett Stidham.

The decision to cut Kessler leaves Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer on the team's QB depth chart. Hoyer, who was released before Week 1 of last season after Stidham won the backup job, signed with the Patriots as a free agent last month.

Stidham and Hoyer likely will compete for the starting job entering the 2020 season following Tom Brady's decision to leave the Patriots and sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in NFL free agency. If the Patriots want to add a third quarterback, selecting one in the 2020 NFL Draft is a possibility. The Patriots have 12 picks in April's draft.

NFL Odds: Here are the favorites to start at QB in Week 1 for the Patriots

NFL Odds: Here are the favorites to start at QB in Week 1 for the Patriots

The New England Patriots are facing uncertainty at quarterback for the first time in two decades. Tom Brady departed this offseason to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Patriots will need a new starting quarterback as a result.

That said, a favorite appears to be emerging to take over the job.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Jarrett Stidham is currently heavily favored to be the Patriots starter at least to kick-off 2020. Here's a look at the odds for each potential candidate at the position courtesy of FanDuel.

This lines up pretty well with what has come out of Patriots camp since Brady's departure. They seem to believe that Stidham is their future at quarterback, so why wouldn't they give him a shot to start? While Brian Hoyer isn't too far behind Stidham (+250), he's likely only that high because he has the most starting experience of the three passers currently on the Patriots depth chart.

The more interesting parts of these odds are the ones relating to veterans and rookies not currently on the team. Cam Newton (+900) leads the pack among the veteran options and is one of two non-Patriot quarterbacks ahead of presumed third-stringer Cody Kessler. The other is Andy Dalton (+1000).

While Newton is available, the Patriots don't have much in the way of cap space. So, it seems unlikely that they would sign him unless they have minimal confidence in the quarterback options on their roster or if one of their options suffers an injury down the road.

As for the rookies, Jacob Eason (+1900) actually leads the pack by a fair bit. He's still a longshot, but his odds are much better than the triage of other rookie passers listed; Justin Herbert, Jake From, and Jordan Love come in at +2600.

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Is this a sign that the Patriots like Eason? They're notoriously tight-lipped about the draft process, so it's hard to say. But if Eason continues to considerably lead the rookie pack as the draft draws nearer, that should be a good indication that the Pats have their eye on him.

Either way, Stidham is rightfully the favorite at this point and the Patriots seem content to give him a season to prove himself. But once the 2020 NFL Draft comes and goes, the picture at quarterback will be a bit clearer.

Agent: Patriots giving Brian Hoyer a chance to compete for starting job

Agent: Patriots giving Brian Hoyer a chance to compete for starting job

Many assumed that when Brian Hoyer agreed to terms with the New England Patriots on Sunday, he would be coming in to provide veteran depth to the roster. But apparently, he thinks that he might have a shot at starting.

According to Hoyer's agent Joe Litna, the Patriots are going to give Hoyer a chance to win the starting job. And that's why he would have turned down more money from other teams to come to New England.

"[If] someone offered him $5 million or $6 million to be a backup, Brian still would’ve wanted to be back in New England," Litna told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "They gave him a chance to compete for the starting job, and that’s all he asked for."

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Perhaps the Patriots will have an open quarterback battle. And perhaps Hoyer will at least get a chance to win the starting job. But early indications are that the Patriots view Jarrett Stidham as "their future" at the position. So, Stidham should still be considered the frontrunner for the job.

It's also worth noting that Hoyer has a career record of just 16-22, and is 1-11 in his last 12 starts over the course of four years. He's certainly still a fine, veteran backup who provides good stability on the sidelines. But counting on him as a starter may not be the wisest move.

We'll soon see what exactly the Patriots' plans are at quarterback. They may select another quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft to compete with the trio of Stidham, Hoyer, and Cody Kessler, and they are reportedly among the many teams interested in one prospect. So, maybe they'll use one of their many mid-round picks to grab him.

Or, they could take a different quarterback like the one Phil Perry mentioned in his latest Patriots seven-round mock draft.

But either way, things are going to be uncertain for the Patriots as they look to navigate life post-Tom Brady.