The New England Patriots‘ struggles this season are likely leading them to the unfamiliar territory of missing the playoffs. For the first time in two decades, Bill Belichick has a serious question to face concerning his quarterback situation next offseason. With that in mind, New England may have another former first overall pick as the potential solution under center.
The Patriots’ quarterback issues are piling up in 2020
When Bill Belichick and the Patriots brought Cam Newton aboard late this past offseason, the team expressed plenty of optimism.
Newton initially got off to a strong start to begin the 2020 campaign through the first three weeks. However, things have progressively driven off the tracks over the last several games. The former NFL MVP dealt with COVID-19 that briefly impacted his availability this season, but his overall performance this year remains quite concerning.
His ineffectiveness in the passing game has significantly handicapped their offensive game plan. Newton has thrown on five touchdown passes to 10 interceptions and holds a 78.9 passer rating in 12 games played. He has failed to eclipse 200 passing all but three times and gone without a touchdown pass on seven occasions.
Newton is still a legitimate factor with his legs, especially in goal-line situations, with 451 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Beyond that, he hasn’t provided stability to the offense, which is only further underlined by the team’s lack of game-changing talent at wide receiver. Newton hasn’t made anywhere near a strong case to move forward with him as the starter beyond this season.
Backup Jarrett Stidham has also struggled to find his footing in his limited playing time. Stidham looks overwhelmed at times while showing plenty of room for growth. New England’s quarterback situation is a definite area to address. All of this may drive Belichick and the Patriots to consider another option through the trade market next offseason.
Matthew Stafford may become available next offseason
With the Patriots likely to miss the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, it presents them every reason to address their quarterback situation.
Bill Belichick may have his potential solution at the position sitting before him with how the Detroit Lions are handling Matthew Stafford. The former 2009 first overall pick has continued to deal with rumors regarding his long-term future with the franchise.
Throughout much of his tenure, the Lions have failed to break through as even a playoff contender. Detroit looks to be headed down that same path in 2020, sitting on the postseason picture’s fringes being two games behind the seventh-seeded Arizona Cardinals before Week 15 action.
The chatter continues to grow louder around the situation as the sentiment remains that the team will move off Stafford after this year. The 32-year-old is in the third year of his five-year, $135 million extension but holds a $24.8 million for the 2021 campaign, which may be low enough for the Lions to bite the financial bullet.
Will Bill Belichick make a run at Matthew Stafford?
The Patriots find themselves in the unfamiliar situation of having to address their quarterback position.
Bill Belichick will have to consider all plausible options, including Matthew Stafford. Longtime NFL insider Peter King recently voiced that he believes Stafford could be a potential option in New England but holds some hesitance due to the financial commitment that comes with the territory. (H/T Yahoo Sports)
“That’s an interesting one because Matthew Stafford’s probably got five good years left. Bill Belichick’s probably got five good years left,” King said. “So, that would actually make some sense to me. But again, the problem is the money you got to pay him. Do the Patriots want to pay a quarterback 20% of their salary cap? I just don’t think so.”
Belichick has notoriously been a stickler for coughing up significant money to players on contracts. In many instances, it has led to the franchise losing talent in free agency due to their lower offers. What further fueled the legendary coach’s firm stance was Tom Brady continually taking pay cuts.
The possibility of pursuing Stafford will all come down to the Patriots being open to taking that financial commitment with his remaining deal. New England will more than enough space to take it on with a projected $68.8 million in salary-cap room next offseason under the presumed $175.0 million league salary-cap number.
Ultimately, the decision lies squarely on Belichick’s shoulders in the coming months.
All contract numbers courtesy of Spotrac.