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MORSE: Pondering the NFL Quarterback Carousel and Morse’s Morsels

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
February 20, 2021 at 10:26 am ET

MORSE: Pondering the NFL Quarterback Carousel and Morse’s Morsels(PHOTO: Greg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Feb 20, 2021 10:26
🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

NFL Teams are trying to get down to the new NFL Salary Cap floor of $180M.  To do that they are unloading high-priced QBs for next to nothing.   We have seen two big-name trades already in Jared Goff going to Detroit for Matthew Stafford.  Detroit got a haul of draft picks for taking on a bad contract.  This week The Eagles unloaded Carson Wentz for a 3rd rd pick this year and a 2nd next year that could become a 1st depending upon playing time and a trip to the postseason.

We are not even talking about what Deshaun Watson would garner in a trade?  Some people think it might take a Herschel Walker-type deal with three 1st round picks.

That also eliminates two teams from taking a 1st round QB this year.  In fact, Philly is a prime candidate at #6 in this draft to be a trade partner.  They have committed to Jalen Hurts as their QB.  The prize at #6 should be Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota St.

Who is our competition for a QB?  Jacksonville will take whoever they want, Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson.  The 2nd pick is the NY Jets and they will take the QB JAX doesn’t select.  However, if the Jets were smart (they aren’t), they would trade #2 to a team like San Francisco.  The 49ers need to unload Jimmy Garappolo and his big salary.  Garappolo will make $24M for each of the next two seasons.  The Jets would include Sam Darnold ($9.794M).  San Francisco can then start Nick Mullen, have Darnold as a backup and draft and groom a top QB for the future.  This will cost the 49ers their 1st this year, next year and their 2nd this year.  Well worth it to gain $14M on the salary cap and a future franchise QB.

The Dolphins are not drafting a QB having just drafted Tua Tagovailoa.  Next up is Atlanta.   Matt Ryan can’t last forever.   They would be in prime position for a QB selection.  I’ll give them Justin Fields.

The Bengals took Burrows last year and they need a lot.  They could take advantage of supply and demand and make a deal with one of the teams that need a QB.  The Panthers, Broncos, Cowboys (Dak is a Free Agent), Giants, Vikings, Patriots, Washington, Bears and New Orleans are those teams in order of draft slot who are in need of a QB.  I see the Pats having to get up ahead of the Panthers to get Trey Lance.  That leaves the Eagles (6) or Lions (7) as trade partners.

For Carolina to get up to pick #4, it’s going to take 1st, 2nd and 3rd this year and a 1st next year. What would it take for the Patriots to get ahead of Carolina or any of those teams needing a QB? At the least, a 1st this year (#15), a 1st next year (?) and a 3rd this year (96 c).  The deciding factor may be the inclusion of All Pro and former Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore.

I could see a scenario that Carolina would take Mac Jones QB Alabama at #8 if the top 4 QBs are gone.  Carolina’s coaching staff got to work with Jones all week at the Senior Bowl and he was very impressive.   Some say the knock on Jones is that he was a 1-year wonder playing with great talent around him.  Although that is correct, Jones showed in the Senior Bowl practices that he too makes people around him better.  He had no familiarity with the wide receivers before he started the practices.  His decision-making, leadership and command of the huddle were impressive.  He made all the throws and was very accurate.

If the top 4 QB’s are off the board when it becomes the Pats turn to select, then a trade down is likely.  They couldn’t go past the Raiders or Dolphins at 17 and 18 respectively.  They would have to determine if Mac Jones is worth drafting that high?  The drop off in talent for QBs is significant after that.

Free Agency and cap casualties will make a big difference over the next few weeks.  I would like to see a veteran QB signed or traded for.  Marcus Mariota is a prime candidate for a trade as Las Vegas is in Cap hell.  A 4th round pick might do it.  We have three 4th round picks.  If Jimmy Garappolo is cut by SF for salary cap reasons, a re-negotiated salary for his services would be ideal.  Jimmy G knows the Patriots system.  The third scenario is the signing of either veteran QB’s Ryan Fitzpatrick or Alex Smith.  This would be done either as a backup or starter if they draft a rookie.  If they take a rookie I would like him to sit and learn for the year just like Brady did under Bledsoe.

Morse’s Morsel’s

The following is a list of Patriot’s Free Agents courtesy of Miguel @PatsCap.  It’s interesting when you see their ages listed next to them.

Jakub Johnson ERFA FB 26
Quincy Adeboyejo ERFA WR 26
J.C. Jackson RFA CB 25
Nick Folk UFA K 36
Brian Hoyer UFA QB 35
Jason McCourty UFA CB 34
Cam Newton UFA QB 32
James ferentz UFA OC 32
Cody Davis UFA S 32
Lawrence Guy UFA 43DT 31
Rex Burkhead UFA RB 31
Justin Bethel UFA ST 31
John Simon UFA 43DE 30
Brandon Copeland UFA 43DE 30
Terrence Brooks UFA S 29
David Andrews UFA OC 29
james White UFA RB 29
Shilique Calhoun UFA 34OLB 29
Carl Davis UFA 43DT 29
Joe Thuney UFA LG 28
Damiere Byrd UFA WR 28
Donte Moncrief UFA WR 28
Deatrich Wise UFA 43DE 27
Adam Butler UFA 43DT 27
Jermaine Elumanor UFA OL 26


Opt Outs will all be returning according to Devin McCourty.  Here is a list of those players that Opted Out.

Donta Hightower             LB           30

Patrick Chung                    S            33

Brandon Bolden               RB           31

Marcus Cannon                OT          32

Matt Lacosse                     TE          28

Marqise Lee                       WR        29

Najee Toran                       OG         25

Dan Vitale                           FB         27


From IR / PUP These players were out for the entire season.

Yodny Cajuste                   OT          25

Beau Allen                          NT          29

Brandon King                     LB           27

Make sure to include these players when talking about roster building.  The Patriots currently have 61 players under contract for next year.

Strain with the Scouting Staff

There has been some talk that Bill Belichick went against the recommendations of the scouting staff when he selected Kyle Dugger and Josh Uche last season.  Belichick attended the Senior Bowl last year when the Pats were eliminated from the playoffs early.  This year Belichick did not attend the Senior Bowl and the theory was that he didn’t want to have a conflict with the scouts again.  Personally, Dugger was at the top of my draft list and I praised Belichick for making the trade and selecting a DII player.  I think Dugger had a great year as a rookie.  On the other hand, I was never a fan of Uche and thought he was a disappointment.

Sleeper QB selection

Stanford Red Shirt Junior QB Davis Mills declared for the draft.  He has prototypical size (6’4” 225 lbs) and was a 5-star recruit.   He threw for over 1500 yards each of the last two years and had a completion percentage of over 65% each year.  Players that go to Stanford are known to be smart.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Patriots selected Mills with the 199th pick in this year’s draft?  He is the short and intermediate passer.

Coaching Staff Additions

Bo Hardegree formerly the QB coach under Adam Gase at NY and Miami before that has been reported by Tom Pelisero of NFL Network to be joining the Patriots staff to help replace Jedd Fisch’s departure.  Hardegree also coached under David Cutcliffe at Duke and Les Miles at LSU.  He was a college teammate of Jerod Mayo’s at Tennessee.

Former Patriots OG Billy Yates has been an O-line coach under Matt Patricia in Detroit.  He is already working for the Patriots in an unknown capacity.  Yates was first introduced to coaching by Bill Belichick in 2015 Pre-Season Camp as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

New England Patriots News 02-21, AFC East Notes

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

Posted Under: 2021 NFL Offseason
Tags: Alex Smith Atlanta Falcons Carolina Panthers Carson Wentz Cincinnati Bengals David Mills Jared Goff Jimmy Garoppolo Joe Burrows Josh Uche Justin Fields Kyle Dugger Marcus Mariota Matt Ryan Matthew Stafford Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets Nick Mullen Philadelphia Eagles Ryan Fitzpatrick Sam Darnold San Francisco 49ers Stanford University Trevor Lawrence Tua Tagovailoa Zach Wilson

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