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Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: The QB Quandary (and more) 

Fans' questions answered in our weekly mailbag. 


With the team needs forever expanding approaching the offseason, should the QB issues be dealt with early, and is it a year that calls for throwing lots of cash at the problem? Dennis Santos

An enthusiastic "I hope so!" to the first half of your question, Dennis. This offseason's team-building period must get off to a good start, and that begins with the quarterback position. If a solid veteran passer becomes available either as a free agent or via trade prior to the start of free agency in mid-March, I'd like to see New England make a play for him.

Whether or not that will require hefty sums of money depends somewhat on the players out there, but for certain, the Patriots will have to spend more than they did on Cam Newton this past season in order to court a quality QB to Foxborough. Without such a player in place once the free agent market opens, it's going to be very difficult to lure many attractive offensive free agents to Gillette. Erik Scalavino

Greetings from Germany and Happy New Year! I really hope Cam Newton is not the future plan of the Patriots. I know that we lack weapons at WR/TE, but I really think Cam has problems. He was lacking accuracy and was slow releasing the ball, causing the pass rush to get to him. I like his leadership and personality, but after many games he said that he has to play better. I never saw any development during the year. Do you think Matthew Stafford could be an option? He seems to be unhappy in Detroit and is still young for a QB. Wishing you and all Patriots fan all the best for the New Year. Philippe Hackfort

Danke schön, Philippe! Based on his comments on the radio Monday, it sure sounds like Newton is ready to put New England in his rearview mirror. And my guess is the team is ready to move on as well. I agree with you about liking him as a person and a personality, but the results on the field speak for themselves.

Specifically about Stafford, he's technically under contract with Detroit. So, if there was mutual interest between him and New England, or any other team, for that matter, they'd presumably have to work out an arrangement with the Lions first. At 32, Stafford still has some skills, and perhaps a change of scenery would do him good, wherever that may be. Erik Scalavino

What did Bill Belichick or anyone else see in Cam [Newton] in the first place? I don't see how he ever could have been a good fit, even if we were loaded with top-flight receivers and tight ends. What am I missing? How was Cam ever going to be a success in Foxborough? Will Dargie

Maybe you're a youngster who wasn't watching football five years ago, but Newton was MVP of the NFL back then. That's what people here saw in him, I would imagine, and hoped that, on a bargain-basement contract, he might be an upgrade to what the team already had at the quarterback position. Can't blame the team for trying. Erik Scalavino

Could the Patriots trade for Jimmy Garoppolo? When healthy, he is a good QB and it is hard to imagine the Patriots finding a better QB than him in free agency or outside of the top 10 in the draft. The 49ers don't want to part with him, but certainly could change their minds for the right amount of draft picks. Plus, the 49ers would appreciate the cap savings. Matthew Crandall

What are the chances of the Patriots getting Jimmy G back as he hits the free agency? Buddha Kanjilal

Well, Jimmy isn't scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, unless the Niners suddenly decide to release him. I'd be somewhat surprised if they did so, but can't rule it out entirely based on his situation there (i.e., injury history, relatively low cap hit).

As far as a trade is concerned, I suppose that's a possibility, albeit a remote one. As Matthew suggests, "the right amount of draft picks" seems to mean giving up more to get him back than the Patriots received to ship him off to San Francisco in the first place back in 2017. That wouldn't seem like a prudent business decision, but again, it can't be ruled out given the need New England has at the QB position.

However, I came across a media report that there's a no-trade clause in Garoppolo’s 49er contract for the 2021 season. He'd have to OK any trade, it would appear. So, maybe he'd be open to rejoining the Patriots, if they were so inclined to want him back. Erik Scalavino

Considering the offensive performance this year, what did we accomplish by not starting [Jarrett] Stidham 6-8 games? Geoff Hart

We've been getting a variation of this question quite a bit over the course of the past few months, and my answer remains the same. I have no doubt that Bill Belichick and his staff tried very hard all season to win every game. So, the only inference I can make from Stidham's only having seen action in a mop-up capacity is that Newton gave the Patriots the best chance to win, in the coaches' minds. And they're the ones who know their roster best. Would New England have won more or fewer games with Stidham starting? All we can do is speculate, and what good would that do anyone at this point. What's done is done. Time to focus on the future. Erik Scalavino

Now that [QB Dwayne] Haskins has gone unclaimed, do you think the Patriots will sign him? Assuming we get a regular training camp, what's the harm in bringing him in on a 1-year deal? Doesn't prohibit you from drafting a QB or signing a veteran. Howard from Edmonton

I was never a big Haskins believer, going back to his Ohio State days. Sure, he was productive in college, but Buckeye QBs rarely do anything of note in the NFL. If the Patriots can acquire a more proven veteran, draft a youngster with potential this spring, and want to bring Haskins in to compete and fill out the depth chart, sure. Why not. But to turn the entire operation over to him as the starter right now? Wouldn't be my first choice. Erik Scalavino

Why not claim [QB] Josh Rosen off of the Bucs' practice squad and try him out for next year? Dave Lamoureux

Because the San Francisco 49ers already did so, two days before Christmas. Erik Scalavino

Recently, Indianapolis Colts ownership expressed the view that Andrew Luck will not un-retire and return to football. Should the Patriots offer a late-round draft pick to the Colts for the rights to Luck, with the hope of convincing him to un-retire at some point in the future? David Perry

I really liked Luck, as far back as his Stanford days. I also felt he was snake-bitten as a pro with all his injuries. Shame, because he was as quality an all-around quarterback as you could hope to find to lead your franchise. At this point, though, it would seem his playing days are truly over. New England needs to look elsewhere to fix its quarterback situation. Erik Scalavino

After the QB position, will we see the Patriots address the DT/NT? William Bates

Ah, yes, right. There are other positions of concern on this New England roster besides QB, and defensive line is one of them. The Patriots definitely need to provide co-captain Lawrence Guy with some help up front. I'd like to see a mix of veteran acquisitions and draft capital expended to help bolster this vulnerable area this offseason. Erik Scalavino

Where do the Patriots stand at the kicker position? Ian Buttriss

Well, they're in pretty good standing right now. In 2020, veteran Nick Folk enjoyed one of the best seasons of his 13-year NFL career. On Monday, the team also signed a pair of kickers to future contracts (contracts that take effect once the new league year begins in March). Both Justin Rohrwasser and Roberto Aguayo were already on the team's practice squad. It remains to be seen if New England will bring back the 36-year-old Folk or allow the two much younger kickers – Aguayo is 26, Rohrwasser 24 – to compete for the job later this year. Whatever the outcome, it seems the Patriots have several options at kicker. Erik Scalavino

With the current roster seemingly short on talent, especially at critical skill positions like QB, TE, and WR, do you see the draft focus and strategy geared less on filling "quality depth" roster slots (on what were previously loaded Patriots teams with established starters at most positions) and more on riskier, high-ceiling, boom-or-bust draft picks? Paul Rogers

I like the way you're thinking, Paul. Sure, quality depth management is great, provided you've already got quality starters in place. And that's far from the case for the most part in New England right now. There might actually be some "quality depth" players on the roster already, it's just that they may have been too often thrust into starting roles this past season and thus been unfairly expected to produce at starter-quality level.

An emphasis desperately needs to be made on talent procurement first, and depth thereafter, in my estimation. Erik Scalavino

Who should be the first pick of the draft for the Patriots? Aaron Blackwell

The most talented player on the board at the time. Regardless of what position he plays. As noted in the previous answer, talent acquisition MUST be a priority for this team wherever and whenever it can do so. Erik Scalavino

Now that this season is over, how is the 2021 schedule looking? Richard Golubzik

Glad you asked, Richard! Just yesterday, I posted a story about New England’s 2021 regular season opponents here on Please give it a read. Erik Scalavino

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