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Who will the Patriots’ quarterback be in 2021?

On Sunday night against the Broncos, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had 318 passing yards. In the last three games combined, Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has 272 passing yards. Total.

From 84 against the Cardinals to 69 against the Chargers to 119 against the Rams, Newton is struggling when it comes to throwing the ball. He has five touchdown passes for entire the season, along with 10 interceptions.

In 2015, Newton’s MVP season, he threw five touchdown passes in a single game. Three times.

And so it’s looking less and less likely that Newton will be back with the Patriots in 2021. If he isn’t, the question becomes, Who will the New England quarterback be?

The options are the usual ones that teams in search of quarterbacks utilize: Draft one, sign a free agent, make a trade.

Like 2020, the 2021 offseason potentially will feature plenty of quarterbacks with NFL experience. We ripped through some of them on Friday’s PFT Live. Sam Darnold, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan. Dak Prescott, if the Cowboys don’t tag him again. (They’d be crazy not to.) Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett. Maybe Alex Smith, if Washington doesn’t want to pay his $16 million salary and releases him.

The idea of the Patriots drafting a potential franchise quarterback raises a question the franchise never has had to ponder, at least not with Bill Belichick as the head coach: Should they “evaluate” younger players for the rest of the season in the hope that 6-7 becomes 6-10 and in turn a higher spot in the draft pecking order?

The easy answer is absolutely. Then again, with upcoming games against the Bills and Dolphins, the Patriots may not have to insert backup and assorted slappies in order to lose games.

Things will get very interesting come Week 17, if a New England loss to the Jets will keep New York from getting Trevor Lawrence.

However it plays out, the Patriots are essentially playing out the string in 2020, for the first time in 20 years. Whether they’ll contend in 2021 depends on whether they can sufficiently upgrade the quarterback position.