NFL training camps have been in session for a little more than a week, which isn’t long enough for making meaningful personnel decisions. However, it’s long enough for Bill Belichick to consider adding to the New England Patriots’ collection of quarterbacks in Year 2 of the post-Tom Brady era.
Belichick bringing one more arm to camp doesn’t mean anything for the futures of incumbent Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones. What it says for everyone else is that Belichick, contrary to his gruff image, doesn’t hold grudges if it means upgrading the Patriots.
Bill Belichick held auditions at Patriots camp on Thursday
Ta’amu was second to Tua Tagovailoa in SEC passing yards in 2018 but went undrafted the following spring. The Houston Texans brought him to training camp in 2019, then Ta’amu played in the XFL before the pandemic stopped the season and the league disbanded. The Chiefs signed the quarterback in April 2020 and assigned him to their practice squad before the start of the season.
Andy Reid released Ta’amu midway through last season. He landed on the Detroit Lions’ practice squad and then bounced back to the Chiefs. Kansas City released him for a second time in May, and the Baltimore Ravens took a brief look at minicamp.
Ta’amu’s arrival meant that Belichick united the two quarterbacks who contributed to the longest day of the Patriots’ long, losing 2020 season.
Cam Newton and Jordan Ta’amu tested positive for COVID-19 hours apart
The Patriots prepared to travel to Kansas City for a Week 4 game early last October when complications arose. Newton tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday night, hours before the Patriots were supposed to board their plane.
That put the Patriots’ plans on hold and raised the possibility that the scheduled Sunday game would be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday. Then, just as the football world was digesting the development, the Chiefs revealed that Ta’amu also tested positive.
Ta’amu was the tipping point. The league office made the postponement official almost immediately.
With no additional positive tests turning up by Sunday morning, the NFL rescheduled the game for 7:05 p.m. on Monday. Not wanting to take any unnecessary chances, Belichick opted to have the Patriots fly out of Boston on the morning of the game.
Patrick Mahomes threw a pair of touchdown passes, the Chiefs posted a 26-10 win, and the Patriots flew home right after the game for their longest day of the season.
What’s Bill Belichick thinking?
Even five quarterbacks would qualify as one too many based on the way NFL coaches tend to build out their roster and practice squad at the start of the regular season. So, Belichick must have something in mind with the decision to bring Ta’amu in for a look.
The first domino to tumble will be Stidham. After undergoing back surgery last week, he is expected to miss three months. If we presume that Newton, Jones, and Hoyer are safe, keeping in mind that Jones could make Newton obsolete, that possibly means Dolegala and Ta’amu could duel this month for a spot on the practice squad.
The thing is, though, that the two are nothing alike. Dolegala is a 6-foot-7 pocket quarterback. Ta’amu is a 6-3 dual-threat type who would make an ideal scout-team QB for the weeks when the Patriots must prepare for a mobile quarterback.
If that’s the case, and even if he never steps on the field on a Sunday afternoon, it’s the sort of contribution that could help the Patriots win, canceling out any lingering hard feelings from a year ago.