Each week leading up to the draft, the Foxboro Blog crew will spend a week breaking down a position on the Patriots' roster. We'll start with a quick overview and then move onto a discussion involving potential draftees at that spot as well as free-agents that the Patriots may pursue. Up this week are the quarterbacks...
2010 Recap: Heading into 2010, there was some legitimate questions about whether Tom Brady still deserved to be ranked among the NFL's elite quarterbacks. After setting the league on fire with his 2007 performance, Brady subsequently missed the 2008 season with a torn ACL, and then played below his usual high standard in 2009. Considering that Drew Brees and Peyton Manning had dueled the Super Bowl that February, while Brady's Patriots fizzled out in the most lop-sided home playoff loss in team history, the doubters certainly had material to work with. Adding to the uncertainty were the facts that Brady's top target, Wes Welker, was coming off of ACL surgery, his deep threat, Randy Moss, was sulking about his contract status, and that the Patriots squad in general was filled with first and second year players.
So what did Brady do in light of all the haters and nay-sayers? Well, first, he smashed up his Audi, then he walked into Robert Kraft's office and signed a contract that made him the hightest paid QB in the league, then he spent the next sixteen games destroying his opponents en route to an league MVP award during what can arguably be considered the best regular-season performance by a quarterback in history. (Brady's only real competition for that distinction being himself in 2007.)
So, yeah, I guess you could say that 2010 was a pretty good year at quarterback for the New England Patriots.
Returning Players: Tom Brady, Jonathan Crompton, Brian Hoyer
Patriots Free-Agents: None
2011 Outlook: If you concede the 2009 season as a recovery year, Brady's 2007 and 2010 performances have to excite Patriots fans about what's in store for 2011. Like all aging QB's, Brady's play will start to drop off at some point, but given his work ethic and his hunger to bring a fourth Lombardi Trophy to Foxboro, I doubt this is the year. One thing worth keeping in the back of your mind is that Brady did undergo foot surgery to repair a stress fracture shortly after the season ended, but by all accounts, it was a relatively minor and succesful procedure. Judging by his moves at Carnivale in Brazil, I'd say Brady is well on his way to a full recovery.
Slightly more interesting is the situation of backup Brian Hoyer. He's in the final year of his contract after playing admirably in the team's season finale against Miami. The question here is whether a team desperate for a QB would offer something of value to New England in exchange for Hoyer's services. While there's always some risk involved with cutting ties with a solid backup option (we were all thankful for Matt Cassel in 2009), it might make sense in the case of Hoyer. Brady is signed with the Patriots for four more seasons, and will most likely re-up again after that. As a result, Hoyer's window of opportunity to make meaningful contributions in New England seems fairly limited, and it may be wise for the team to draft a backup in the late rounds this year, to groom as a potential heir to Brady's throne.