New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) looks to make a pass during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots 2013 Profiles: Ryan Mallett

The New England Patriots still have second-string quarterback Ryan Mallett, but that could all change for the better if Mallett can put all that purported progression together into one big preseason. Mallett showed more poise last preseason season after an offseason that wasn’t shortened due to the locket, but it still didn’t seem like he had the accuracy he needed. Dubbed a statue by critics, Mallett will likely remain a Drew Bledsoe-clone in the pocket. However, the key isn’t mobility; it’s sensing pressure and staying calm in the pocket. It seemed like Mallett got the hang of that last preseason, but now is the time for Mallett to show off the kind of accuracy and decision-making that can make him a legitimate starting quarterback in this league.

The two most important traits a quarterback can have are accuracy and decision-making, and I’m sure most Patriots fans will attest to the importance of those two skills, given the fact that Tom Brady has been the best in the NFL at both for some time. Whether he is still the best QB in the league is up for some debate, but let’s not make this about Brady. But the interesting thing with Mallett is that, if he wants to be a starting quarterback, he won’t get his chance at starting in New England due to Brady. The Patriots legend is still going to play until about another five seasons, and that constitutes an eternity for a quarterback heading into this third season.

What Mallett needs to do is at least capture lightning in a bottle this preseason and, if it helps, trade some of that gunslinging for accuracy. I presume that Mallett’s goal is to start for somebody, and that’s going to happen if he proves he is worth a second-round pick in trade value. I doubt the Pats are going to drop their asking price on Mallett to below a second-round pick, because they did draft him in the third round and have invested a few years worth in him as a quality backup. The Patriots organization is high on Mallett, but the key is trying to get other teams to be as high on Mallett.

Honestly, the best interests of Mallett and the Patriots are the same. The Patriots want Mallett to show off his ability and growth as much as possible so that they can deal him for a high draft pick. Mallett says he wants to remain a Patriot and I believe him, but I would think that he’d rather be a starting quarterback of his own instead of stuck in proverbial no-man’s land behind Brady for another handful of seasons. The only way Mallett starts in New England is if Brady is injured, so he is by definition a backup and contingency plan here.

If the Pats do end up trading Ryan Mallett, then it’s going to happen in the offseason for that reason. If they trade Mallett and- God forbid- Brady goes down, then all that is left is Tim Tebow. I don’t hate Tebow or anything, but I would be more than a little leery to have Tebow as the lone backup, especially if the Patriots don’t know what they have in him.

Ideally, Mallett shows a ton of progression this season in the accuracy and decision-making departments, because that would look great in combination with his insane arm strength. I would love to hold onto Mallett, but it is probably best for the Patriots to pump up his value and deal him next offseason for at least a second-round pick. If he shows up enough, then Mallett could even fetch a higher price for the Pats, and he would also be able to have a big chance at capturing a starting gig. Life after Mallett for the Patriots might include Tim Tebow in the equation, but I would think the Pats would want to draft quarterbacks and try to develop them as backups or for trade value in the process.

Mallett represents a win-win situation for the Patriots. They seem to feel more than comfortable with him as the backup, so a ho-hum preseason would just mean a stable backup situation for this team. A big preseason would likely mean significant assets heading back to the Patriots via a trade in the offseason, and having a talented young quarterback is a valuable trade piece to have. I wonder if the Patriots will make this a cycle if they do trade Mallett, but the one thing that is clear to me is that the Pats are only going to deal Mallett for a high price; they aren’t going to lose a top backup option for less.

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Tags: New England Patriots NFL Offseason Ryan Mallett

  • Paul V. Suffriti

    I agree with the assessment. If Mallett has a good preseason, then he could fetch a second round pick…..I would feel more comfortable if the Pats worked on Tebow’s passing mechanics during training camp.

    • Joe Soriano

      No doubt about it, the Pats have to work closely with Tebow in order to try and make him a more accurate quarterback; that’s the bottom line. If they signed him to stick at QB (which I don’t believe, honestly), then the least they could do is work hard with him.

  • Kurt Boyer

    Whatever else you wanna say about him, we should all be able to agree that Tebow is the best spread-option QB of all time, just like Colin Kaepernick is the best Pistol QB ever, based on stats, championships and durability. They are both also-rans in a traditional NFL system where they weren’t allowed to run or helm the option. The question is not whether Tebow is good at what he does, the question is whether what he does is a viable alternative at the top level. I consider that he brought his playbook to a bad team and went 9-7 as a starter w/ a playoff win. Tebow is also going to be the best-conditioned athlete on the field whenever he plays — that top-notch QBR rating in the last 5 minutes demonstrates that. When the “conventional wisdom” is that those late-game heroics were all some type of cosmic fluke, we know that most people are looking at it wrong. Tebow deserves at least a backup role in the NFL based on the objective evidence.

    However, the problem for Timmy in NE (if Brady does go down and/or Mallett is trade bait as expected) is that the Pats don’t have a superior defense. I believe strongly that the formula for winning with Tebow as a starter is to spend mega $ on a crushing defense while giving him ordinary talent on offense. He can option teams to death, protect the ball and win the the 4th quarter while the defense holds off the opponent. In NE these days they rely on the offense to score 30 points and often go for broke instead of playing ball-control. Not Tebow’s game. I could see the Pats returning to their 90s form after Brady retires with Tebow grinding out 17-10 wins every week. Or, I could see him getting thrown in the fire this season due to a Brady injury and losing three games in a row 45-28. We’ll see.