Tom Brady is 36. Ryan Mallett is the only other quarterback currently on the Patriots roster. The 2014 has a number of quality quarterbacks, and several more with excellent potential. This is the time for the New England Patriots to draft 12′s successor.
How many years does Brady have left? He has spoken this season of wanting to play until he is 40, and while he will be 37 by the time next season starts, he has at the absolute most two years left. He has also lost in the AFC championship game for the second year in a row. Not trying to hurry the future Hall of Famer out the door, but the Patriots ought to consider following the Packer’s lead and drafting their quarterback of the future, even if there is no intention of him playing right away.
The 2014 draft is expected to be stocked with quarterback talent, and with a young receiving corps, improving defence (when everyone is healthy), and no pressure on the incoming QB, the Patriots are ideally suited to take a young signal caller and get him to learn from Brady – study his approach, work ethic and drive to win. There may also be the added bonus of pushing Brady on to prove he is still the guy in Foxborough – much like Favre in Green Bay after Rodgers arrived.
Setting the team up for the future is a wise move, even though it is possible that Brady and Belichick will retire at the same time. This would leave a massive void in the organisation, and having a quarterback in place who is good enough to step up, and already has an understanding with, and respect of, his team.
If the team choses to promote from within (Matt Patricia or Josh McDaniels most likely) then that continuity will help the transition, and will mean not having to blood a rookie signal caller and a new head coach.
In any case, there is also the risk that Brady can get hurt. He has been very durable during his career (Bernard Pollard aside), but at his age, health cannot be taken for granted. So why not have a player on the books who can take the team on, and use the time to develop as a long-term alternative – after all, look at what happened to the Indianapolis Colts when Peyton Manning hurt his neck.
While Ryan Mallett could be one of the better back-ups in the league, he doesn’t have the supporting cast that Matt Cassel had in ’08 (in many ways, it would be more similar to the Brady/Bledsoe handover in terms of receiving quality). If the Patriots draft someone like AJ McCarron or David Fales in the middle rounds and let them learn from Brady, wouldn’t that be in the best interest of the franchise, long-term?
Regardless, there is a lack of long-term solution at quarterback on the Patriots roster, and with an ageing starter it would make sense for the team to bring in a young gun who can contribute if required, but if not can get coached up and learn behind one of the best to ever play the position.